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Bafana humbled by Mali in AFCON opener

todayJanuary 17, 2024 26

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Percy Muzi Tau of South Africa reacts in disappointment after missed a penalty during the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations Finals match between Mali and South Africa at Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium in Korhogo on 16 January 2024 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Mali signalled their Africa Cup of Nations Cote d’Ivoire 2023 intent by comfortably defeating South Africa 2-0 in Tuesday’s Group E encounter.

In an open start, both sides traded blows before Sekou Koita and Lassine Sinayoko goals earned Mali victory in Korhogo.

Mali should have led on four minutes, but Lassine Sinayoko was denied by Ronwen Williams’ reflex save.

At the other end, Percy Tau forced a good stop from Djigui Diarra after racing through on goal.

Tau then blew the chance to give Bafana Bafana the lead, blazing a 19th-minute penalty over the bar after VAR awarded the spot-kick.

Mali cranked up the pressure after the break, Amadou Haidara clipping the bar before Hamari Traore bundled in the opener on the hour mark.

Five minutes later, Sinayoko drilled a low shot through Williams’ legs to double Mali’s advantage and put them firmly in control.

South Africa rallied later on, but Themba Zwane’s free-kick cannoned off the woodwork as they slipped to defeat.

The win sees Mali top Group E on goal difference from Namibia, who shocked Tunisia 1-0 earlier on Tuesday.

But on this evidence, a slick Mali side boasting quality like Yves Bissouma, Amadou Haidara and Koita have the tools to go far in Cote d’Ivoire.

Hugo Broos, head coach of South Africa during the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations Finals match between Mali and South Africa at Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium in Korhogo on 16 January 2024 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Bafana coach, Hugo Broos, attributed the loss to the missed penalty in the first half as well as the physicality of the Eagles.

“The performance of South Africa was good, and I think if we scored the penalty, we would have been good. They were more physical than the first half. This was the major difference. We lost a lot of balls and mostly because of the physical conditioning of Mali was better than us. So this is the difference and this is where Mali was able to change the game, not at the football playing level,” said Broos after the disappointing result.

“The coach of Mali saw what he had to do, and they were stronger on duels in the second half and we couldn’t play our game anymore. We lost the ball where we shouldn’t have lost it but then again, I think the performance was good but just not good enough” concluded a dejected Broos.

Up next for the South Africans is a Southern African tie with their high in confidence neighbours, Namibia, who secured a historic 1-0 victory over Tunisia in the earlier kick off.

The Sunday clash will take place at the at the Stade Amadou Gon Coulibaly in Korhogo at 22h00 South African time.

Written by: Ntsako Mukhari

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