African Nations Cup
January 20, 2013
Mali 1-0 Niger
Mali secured the first victory in this year's African Nations Cup with an uninspiring 1-0 win over Niger in Port Elizabeth.
Both of Saturday's ties finished goalless and Ghana and DR Congo drew 2-2 earlier today, but Mali finally overcame stubborn resistance from Niger to go top of Group B on three points.
Seydou Keita was the hero for Mali, steering home the winner in the 84th minute after seeing an earlier shot come back off the post.
Chances were at a premium in a poor first half, with Niger coming closest to opening the scoring when Kofi Dankwa's volley brought an excellent save from Mali goalkeeper Mamadou Samassa.
At the other end, Nice midfielder Mahamane Traore tried his luck from long range with a powerful drive which flew just wide of the post.
Both managers will have been glad of the half-time interval to make some tactical changes and the contest did improve in the second period.
The impressive Keita brought a good save from Kassaly Daouda with a left-footed drive from 20 yards, while Mali substitute Mahamadou Samassa wasted a good chance from 12 yards on 64 minutes when he could only fire into the side-netting.
A third 0-0 draw of the tournament looked on the cards when chances continued to be squandered, with Niger's Moussa Maazou rising superbly to meet a cross from Issoufou Boubacar but heading over the bar.
Keita then saw his shot from the edge of the area come back off the top of the post, but the former Barcelona midfielder was not to be denied.
With time running out, Niger goalkeeper Daouda came out for a cross but succeeded only in dropping the ball at Keita's feet and he calmly steered his shot home for a deserved winner.
|Seydou Keita (84')|
|1 Mamadou Samassa||16 Kassaly Daouda|
|3 Adama Tamboura||18 Kaffi Kowa|
|2 Fousseni Diawara||19 Issiaka Koudize|
|21 Mahamadou N'Diaye||23 Mohamed Soumaila|
|13 Molla Wague||21 Mohamed Bachar|
|12 Seydou Keita||13 Mohammed Chicoto|
|11 Sigamary Diarra||8 Kourouma Fatoukoma|
|17 Mahamane Traore||3 Karim Lancina|
|8 Kalilou Traore||14 Boubacar Issoufou|
|9 Cheick Diabate||2 Ouwo Moussa Maazou|
|7 Cheick Mady Diarra||7 Modibo Sidibe|
|16 Soumaila Diakite||Rabo Saminou 22|
|22 Ali Yirango||Moussa Toldo Almouza 1|
|4 Adama Coulibaly||Ismael Alassane 15|
|5 Idrissa Coulibaly||Amadou Kader 4|
|19 Salif Coulibaly||Lucky James 5|
|6 Mohamed Sissoko||Laoisali Idrissa 6|
|18 Samba Sow||Souleyamane Sako 12|
|14 Sambou Yatabaré||Boubacar Talatou 10|
|20 Samba Diakité||William N'Gounou 17|
|15 Mamadou Samassa||Moutari Amadou 20|
|10 Modibo Maíga||Kamilou Daouda 9|
|Issoufou Dante 11|
|Mamadou Samassa for Cheick Mady Diarra (46)||Boubacar Talatou for Boubacar Issoufou (78)|
|Mohamed Sissoko for Kalilou Traore (63)||Issoufou Dante for Issiaka Koudize (88)|
|Samba Diakité for Sigamary Diarra (79)|
|Mamadou Samassa (90)||Mohamed Soumaila (48)|
|Boubacar Issoufou (75)|
|· Squads: Mali | Niger|