Two goals in six minutes propel Mali to victory over South Africa
Mali seized an opportunity to defeat South Africa 2-0 in the Africa Cup of Nations on Tuesday, taking the lead in Group E.
South Africa's Percy Tau missed an early penalty, setting the stage for Mali's captain Hamari Traore to open the scoring an hour into the game. Lassine Sinayoko doubled the lead six minutes later, putting the West Africans at the top of the group, ahead of Namibia on goal difference.
Traore quickly capitalized on a chance, scoring from close range after South Africa's goalkeeper Ronwen Williams narrowly deflected a curling free kick from Sekou Koita at the Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium. Sinayoko's goal followed shortly, as he shook off two defenders to score after receiving a well-placed through ball.
South Africa had a chance to take the lead 18 minutes into the game when a VAR review revealed an elbow to the face of their striker Evidence Makgopa by Mali's Sikou Niakate. However, Tau's penalty shot missed the target. Despite dominating the first half and forcing a save from Mali's goalkeeper Djigui Diarra, South Africa almost conceded a goal at halftime due to a defensive error, which Sinayoko nearly capitalized on.
Mali had two prime opportunities after halftime, with Koita shooting over the bar and Amadou Haidara missing a clear chance. However, these misses were quickly overshadowed by the two goals that solidified Mali's strong position in the highly competitive group.
In another Group E match in Korhogo, Namibia secured a late victory over Tunisia, thanks to a goal from winger Deon Hotto. Mali will next face Tunisia on Saturday, while South Africa will compete against neighboring Namibia on Sunday, both games taking place in Korhogo.