New Telegraph

AFCON 2023: Mali 2-0 South Africa

Hamari Traore and Lassine Sinayoko’s second-half goals launched Mali to their Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) campaign with a 2-0 victory against South Africa.

When the teams met in Korhogo for Group E, Captain Traore gave his team the lead in the 60th minute, and striker Sinayoko soon added another.

The former Brighton forward Percy Tau missed a penalty, which cost South Africa dearly even though they had the better of the first half.

Sikou Niakate’s elbow inside Mali’s box caught Evidence Makgopa in the face, the 1996 winners had a fantastic opportunity to take the lead after a largely uneventful first half of the match.

Egyptian referee Mohamed Edel pointed to the spot following VAR intervention, only for Tau to wastefully fire his 19th-minute effort high over the crossbar.

Tau, who left Brighton to join Egyptian club Al Ahly in 2021, was then twice denied by Mali goalkeeper Djigui Diarra as he sought to make amends.

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Mali barely threatened in the opening period but nearly snatched the lead in added time when poor defending from Siyanda Xulu and Mothobi Mvala was almost punished by Auxerre forward Sinayoko.

RB Leipzig midfielder Amadou Haidara should have put 1972 runners-up Mali in front just four minutes into the second half but he somehow skied over after being slipped clear by Sekou Koita.

Eric Chelle’s side were far better after the break and grabbed the lead with half an hour remaining.

Koita’s curling left-footed free-kick from the edge of the box was kept out by a combination of South Africa keeper Ronwen Williams and the bar but fell kindly for Real Sociedad defender Traore to poke home.

Sinayoko put the result beyond doubt only six minutes later, escaping Xulu to latch on to Kamory Doumbia’s through ball and jab beyond Bafana Bafana captain Williams.

South Africa never looked like salvaging anything from the game in the closing stages, albeit they did strike the left post through a speculative long-range free-kick deep into added time.

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