Mustapha Yatabare slid in a dramatic equaliser deep into stoppage time to help
Mali complete an astonishing comeback in the opening match of the African
Nations Cup against hosts Angola in Luanda.
Trailing 4-0 and seemingly playing for pride after a brace from Flavio Amado
and penalties from Gilberto and Manucho had put the home side in front with just
11 minutes remaining, Seydou Keita gave the Eagles hope when he scrambled the
ball home from a Carlos Fernandes error.
But Frederic Kanoute glanced home a fine header to halve the deficit in the
87th minute, before a second from Keita in time added on and Yatabare's effort
completed a sensational turnaround which stunned the home fans at the Estadio 11
It all looked so different moments earlier after the Black Antelopes had raced
ahead to help lift a sombre mood on day one of the competition which has been
marred by an attack on the Togo team which left three people dead.
Manuel Jose's men began sprightly with Flavio firing the first shot on goal
from 25 yards out.
The Eagles, who looked nervous throughout the opening half, slowly began to
improve and their first real sniff of goal came after 20 minutes, but Modibo
Maiga squandered the chance when his back-heeled pass on the edge of the penalty
area failed to find any team-mate.
The Angolans were forced into an early change three minutes later when Dede had
to go off with what looked like an ankle injury.
His replacement Djalma Campos had the best opening of the two sides just after
the half-hour mark when Mabina's pinpoint cross from the right was met with a
powerful header at the near post, which was unfortunately straight at Mahamadou
But the host did not have much longer to wait for the opening, which came in
the 37th minute.
It came when the visitors needlessly brought down Manucho just outside the
penalty area on the left.
Gilberto cleverly sought out Flavio with the ensuing free-kick instead of going
for goal and his cross was powerfully met by the Al-Shabab striker to leave
The Malians were rocked and it was 2-0 five minutes later - Mabina finding an
unmarked Flavio with his cross from the right and the ball was again
impressively headed in to hand the hosts a 2-0 half-time lead.
The Eagles began promisingly after the break and should have equalised when a
cross from the right found Mahamadou Diarra unmarked at the back post, but he
took his time, giving goalkeeper Carlos Fernandes time to make an acrobatic save
that helped avert the danger.
Minutes later Kanoute had a first shot on goal, but he skewed his shot wildly
over as Mali searched for a lifeline.
But their constant pressure came to nothing, with Angola going 3-0 up in the
67th minute after a fine counter-attack led to Mamadou Bagayoko bringing down
Gilberto in the penalty area.
The Al-Ahly midfielder stood up to take the spot-kick himself - scoring with
both attempts after he was asked to retake his first one due to players entering
the box too early.
Seven minutes later Keita bizarrely conceded another penalty when Gilberto was
for the second time hauled back in the area.
This time Manucho stepped forward to send Sidibe the wrong way. There was still
time for Mali to attempt a comeback and they were gifted a goal 11 minutes from
the end when Fernandes spilt a poor corner and Keita bundled the ball in.
Kanoute halved the deficit with a powerfully glanced header with three minutes
left and when the fourth official signalled four additional minutes it seemed to
deflate the hosts.
They took their foot of the pedal and Keita's angled finish was followed by
Yatabare's 94th minute goal - after Fernandes could only parry into his path -
to hand Stephen Keshi's side a share of the spoils.
Mali midfielder Seydou Keita believes the physchological boost from their
remarkable comeback against Angola will stand them in good stead for the rest of
the African Nations Cup.
Barcelona midfielder Keita, who surprisingly started on the bench before
entering the fray 35 minutes in, told Eurosport: ''There was a lot of pressure
on us. I condeded a penalty and they kept scoring.
''I just couldn't imagine we could fight back like that. We wanted to win but of course we are happy to get a point in the end. We were bad in the first half, mentally we weren't really at the races.
''It didn't look like we would get anything but luckily we managed to get a
point and we are happy. It's good for us mentally, our confidence, but we have to be careful to not
make too many mistakes. There is a lot to correct before the next match.''