Mali coach Eric Chelle has admitted difficulties to digest their 2-1 quarter-finals defeat against Ivory Coast in the Africa Cup of Nations on Saturday.
In a dramatic last eight fixture at the Stade de la Paix in Bouake, the Eagles were presented with an earlier opportunity to take the lead when the Elephants were reduced to 10 men after Odilon Kossounou conceded a penalty and was sent off in the first half for fouling Lassine Sinayoko.
However, keeper Yahia Fofana saved Adama Traore’s spot kick to keep the Elehpants level at the break. The hosts were eventually breached in the 71st minute when Mali substitute Nene Dorgeles fired in from the edge of the box to give the Eagles a deserved lead.
But the Ivorians showed tremendous spirit and equalised against the run of play through Simon Adingra, who pounced on a rebound after Seko Fofana’s long-range drive was parried.The game went to extra time, where the heroics of keeper Fofana kept Mali at bay once more. As penalties loomed, Oumar Diakete snatched a dramatic late winner for Ivory Coast with a clever backheel finish in the 119th minute.
“This is really difficult for us to digest, we managed to put up a great match, this was a great match indeed and in the last minutes, we collapsed,” said Chelle, adding: “We decided to comeback to a system of five defenders because there were lot of balls in the air and we had to manage that.
“I am sad for the players because this generation of players are talented and they deserve more. I think there are a lot of teams that can’t do what my team is doing right now.
“I asked my players to play to win and we had a good game, lot of interesting situations, we had two penalties and only one was given We saw a hand with the ball that was not awarded, this is something we need to take a look at and the red card was a legitimate one.”