Mali win SA 3-1 on penalty, advance in semis
Composed penalties from Mali paid dividends as the Eagles netted all three of their spot-kicks tonight to qualify for the semifinal of South Africa 2013. Both sides drew 1-1 after more than 120 minutes but the Bafana Bafana finally crash out after penalty shoot-out. It was an even start in Durban with neither side having managed to carve out a clear chance or any meaningful possession. From the first 10 minutes, it was hard to call the game. Both sides continued having half chances but the Bafana Bafana made the difference in the 31st taking the lead through Tokelo Phala. Placed at the back post, he tapped home a Parker squared ball to maintain South Africa in front until the end of first half. Upon resumption, Mali gradually got back into the game. In the 58th, Seydou Keita turned the ball home with his head following a great work down the left by Samassa. Keita’s equalizer turned the game on the head of South Africa unlike in the first half. Later on, Samassa had a golden opportunity but was unable to convert it. Despite changes made from each side, it was 1 for the Bafana Bafana and 1 for the Eagles until the 94th. All was left to be decided in the half an hour of extra time that ended goalless. After penalty shoot-out, Mali emerged with three goals against one. They move to the semifinal as well as Ghana who earlier defeated Cape Verde to claim their ticket.
Defeating the Eagles of Mali and fulfilling the desire of their supporters are the main challenges the hosts, South Africa will be facing this Saturday evening in their quarterfinal meeting in Durban. The Bafana Bafana made it to the quarterfinal stage following a 2-2 draw with Morocco while Mali drew 1-1 with the Democratic Republic of Congo to go through. Seydou Keita and his teammates look more determined than ever as victories for them constitute a catalyst for peace as Mali is being faced with some political crisis. Mali and South Africa clashed in the quarterfinal of the 2002 nations’ cup with Eagles grabbing the lion’s share. Last year in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, the boys of Patrice Carteron finished third. Unfortunately they play today with their first choice goalkeeper, Mamadou Samassa still serving a suspension. They will be counting on the likes of Adama Coulibaly and former Barcelona midfielder, Seydou Keita. A victory for the hosts, South Africa this Saturday will see them play their first semifinal in the nations’ cup since 2000.