Mali out despite win

2010-01-18 20:49
Frederic Kanoute (AFP)
Cabinda - Mali crashed out of the African Cup of Nations on Monday despite a 3-1 win over Malawi in its final game in Group A.

Frederic Kanoute, Seydou Keita and Mamadou Bagayoko all scored for Mali in an entertaining game, but the victory was not enough to earn the Eagles a place in the knockout phase.

Russell Mwafulirwa pulled one back for Malawi.

Host Angola topped the group with five points, while Algeria and Mali both had four, but Algeria went through because of its better head-to-head record courtesy of its 1-0 victory over Mali on Thursday.

Angola and Algeria played out a 0-0 draw in the other group game that allowed both teams to reach the quarterfinals.

Mali hasn't qualified for the knockout phase of the biennial competition since 2004, when they reached the semi-finals.

Playing without captain Mahamadou Diarra after the Real Madrid star was suspended for one match together with defender Bakary Soumare, Mali converted its first chance after Kanoute took advantage of a poor clearance by goalkeeper Swadick Sanudi's bad to volley into an open goal in the first minute.

Mali immediately doubled its lead just two minutes later when Barcelona midfielder Keita, who had already scored twice in a 4-4 draw with Angola, unleashed a 25-meter free kick into the top left corner.

Sanudi made up for his initial mistake in the 11th minute when he tipped away Bagayoko's volley following a swift counterattack.

Malawi, playing its first African Cup in 26 years, had its first chance in the 24th minute when Esau Kanyenda turned two defenders to fire a shot from outside the box that was easily saved by goalkeeper Mahamadou Sidibe.

Mali continued to dominate until halftime, with Bagayoko challenging Sanudi with a low shot in the 34th. The Flames goalkeeper then clumsily blocked Lassana Fane's powerful free kick in the 43rd before Bagayoko wasted a clear chance by heading wide.

Striker Mwafulirwa, who hadn't played in Malawi's defeat to Angola, narrowed the gap in 58th minute following confusion in the Malian box.

Mali quickly recovered its composure as Keita forced Sanudi to a good save from long range in the 60th minute.

Malawi should have levelled the scoring in the 71st minute but Mwafulirwa completely misjudged his header from Jospehy Kamwendo's cross. Mwafulirwa headed the ball down so firmly from just three meters out that the ball bounced over the crossbar with an empty goal beckoning.

Bagayoko scored Mali's third in the 85th minute to seal the result when he headed home from close range after connecting with substitute Modibo Maiga's cross.


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