CHAN: South Africa, Mali tie ends in stalemate
South Africa were left frustrated after playing a 1-1 draw against Mali in the exciting encounter on Wednesday evening in the African Nations Championship (CHAN) group stage match at the Cape Town Stadium.
Bafana Bafana opened the scoring in the 24th minutes via a spot kick by Bernard Parker before Mali, who were suppose to be awarded the penalty in the early stages of the match if it wasn’t for the poor referring, levelled the score with a cracker of a goal by Ibourahima Sidibe early in the second-half.
The draw leaves Gordon Igesund’s men as leaders of Group A with four points. The tournament’s host might be under pressure to beat Nigeria in their last match of the group stage. Mali on the other side, remain second in the group level on points with South Africa on four.
The first anticipating moment of the match came in the 8th minute when South Africa were lucky not to concede a penalty after Itumeleng Khune brought down Abdoulaye Sissoko inside the area, but the referee was not spot on as he awarded a corner to the Djibril Drame’s side.
Siphiwe Tshabalala was the first player to threaten when he curled an effort from outside the area but he was unlucky as the ball went narrowly wide of the mark in the 12th minutes. South Africa were pilling pressure on the Malians, and the luck was on their side when the referee awarded them a penalty after 23 minutes which was not suppose to be given, it was another poor decision made by the man in charge.
Platinum Stars winger Lindokuhle Mbatha made a great run on the right hand side before he was clipped by Souleymane Konate just outside the area, but the referee chose to award the spot kick to the host instead of a free-kick. Bernard Parker stepped up and slotted the ball past Soumaila Diakite to give South Africa the lead and take his tally of goals in the tournament to three in two matches, 1-0.
The Eagles almost levelled matters just four minutes later when a long throw to the box connected with Ibourahima Sidibe, whose lobbing header almost caught Itumeleng Khune off guard but the impressive goalkeeper made a finger tip save to concede a corner.
South Africa were back in thick of things again when they almost scored the second with less than 10 minutes left before the break when Siphiwe Tshabalala’s inviting cross from the left hand side found Lindokuhle Mbatha unmarked in the area, but the midfielder’s first-time shot was blocked by Mahamadou Traore.
Mali almost had the last say in the first-half when their dangerous front-man Abdoulaye Sissoko penetrated from the left hand side before he saw his shot beat onrushing Itumeleng Khune but not the frame of goal with three minutes left before the interval.
South Africa took their 1-0 lead to the break.
The half-time talk looked to have worked for Mali when they found the equaliser just 10 minutes from the restart. Ibouramahima Sidebe was set-up by striking partner Lassana Diarra after a long ball before firing a shot past helpless Itumeleneg Khune and into the roof of the net, 1-1.
The Eagles almost made it 2-1 in the hour mark when Thabo Nthethe cleared the ball in the path of Adam Traore, but the winger could only direct his shot just wide of the target from point-blank range with goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune well beaten.
South Africa were now finding it hard to penetrate the defence of Mali, and the closest they came to scoring again was when Siphiwe Tshabala played a cross for Bernard Parker, who made a great turn and fire with his left foot but Soumaila Diakite was well positioned to gather the ball in the 70th minutes.
Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund made a tactical change with ten minutes left on the clock when he brought on Lerato Chabangu in the place of Siphiwe Tshabalala as he looked for a winning goal. But the change made little impact as the Eagles were able to stand firm at the back and not allow the hosts much space.
The Malians will be happy for a draw as a win against Mozambique in their last group match on Sunday will take them to last eight of the competition.
South Africa: Khune ©, Mere, Nthethe, Mkhwanazi, Mokeke, Tshabalala (Chabangu 81’), Kekana, Pattison, Mbatha, Parker, Manqele (Mbekile 54’).
Mali: Diakite, Samake, Keita, Konate, Traore, Sissoko (C), Doumbia, Samake, Traore, Diarra (Diawara 65’), Sidibe.