Mali defeated South Africa 2-0 and claimed the lead in Group E by taking advantage of an early let-off in the second half at the AFCON 2023 game on Tuesday.
After South Africa’s Percy Tau missed a penalty kick in the first half, Mali’s captain Hamari Traore broke the tie after in the 60th minute and Lassine Sinayoko scored another six minutes later, moving the west Africans ahead of Namibia on goal differential.
Sekou Koita’s curling free kick at the Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium was just saved by South Africa goalkeeper Ronwen Williams, but Traore was first to react and scored from a centimetre away.
Soon after, Sinayoko scored his second goal from close range after a through ball placed him in the goal side and he overcame two challenges from the defence.
After eighteen minutes, a VAR check indicated that Sikou Niakate had elbowed South Africa’s striker Evidence Makgopa in the face when the ball was played into the Mali area and the defender was trying to stop the tall forward from reaching to it. when a result, South Africa was awarded a penalty.
But Tau wasted the chance to move forward, blasting it wide off target.
While South Africa dominated the first half of play, he did manage to force a wonderful save out of Djigui Diarra. However, just before halftime, they nearly got caught off guard when a defensive error allowed Sinayoko to get through on goal, but Williams blocked his shot.
Soon after the interval, Mali had two fantastic opportunities: Koita, who shot horribly high, and Amadou Haidara, who hurried his attempt and sadly missed the target.
However, these were soon forgotten as Mali took command of a group that was always likely to be fiercely contested thanks to the two goals.
Mali and Tunisia next meet on Saturday while South Africa are up against neighbours Namibia on Sunday, both in Korhogo.