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AFCON 2023: Mali prevails with second half double as South Africa rue missed chances

Two second half goals in a six-minute span lifted Mali to a 2-0 victory over South Africa on Tuesday to give the Eagles a winning start to their 2023 Africa Cup of Nations campaign. Mali captain Hamari Traoré tapped in the opening goal on the hour mark and Lassine Sinayoko confirmed three points for the Group E leaders, who capitalized on momentum gained from a missed penalty from Bafana Bafana in the first half. Mali will look to continue their winning ways against Tunisia on Saturday and South Africa face regional rivals Namibia on Sunday in the next Group E fixtures.

Mali, the favorites and backed by numerous supporters who made the short trip to Korhogo, were put on the back foot by Bafana Bafana in an energetic start to the match. Eagles goalkeeper Djigui Diarra was pressed into action in the 14th minute after Thapelo Maseko’s cross led to a shot that was saved by the Young Africans shot stopper.

Shortly after another cross from the left wing saw Bafana striker Evidence Makgopa elbowed by defender Sikou Niakaté as he attempted to attack the cross. VAR intervened and a penalty kick was awarded to the underdogs but Percy Tau got under his spot kick attempt and failed to put his effort on target to the delight of the majority of attendees.

The ability to finish was considered a weakness for South Africa and their failure to capitalize early caused the momentum to swing to Mali. Bafana goalkeeper Ronwen Williams did well to keep the match scoreless at halftime, coming out to close down a shot attempt after Sinayoko battled past two defenders to win a ball that bounced into the penalty area.

Mali seized control in the second half and the opening goal came from a set piece in the 60th minute. Sékou Koïta curled his free kick on target and Williams did excellently to tip the ball off the crossbar but was powerless to keep Traoré from tapping in as the ball bounced along the goal line. The Eagles continued to soar and six minutes later following a South African turnover it was Sinayoko who received a pass from Kamory Doumbia and powered past a defender before poking his finish under the onrushing Williams to put his team out of reach.

Highlights from Tuesday’s final match are below.

Match Highlights

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