Mali shoot down Super Eagles
Cape Town - Mali have started their 2014 African Nations Championship campaign on a winning note when they defeated West African rivals Nigeria 2-1 in their Group A encounter at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday night.
Abdoulaye Sissoko opened the scoring in the first half and Adama Traore added the second soon after the break, while substitute Gbolahan Salami scored the only goal for the Super Eagles.
It was the Eagles who threatened first in the 7th minute when Chigozia Agbim punched Sissoko’s corner straight into the path of Lassana Diarra, but his goalbound shot was cleared by Azubuike Egwuekwe.
Mali took the lead in the 18th minute when Nigeria lost the ball in their half, allowing Sissoko to fire past Agbim from the right side of the box with the aid of a deflection from Egwuekwe.
Two minutes later Adama Traore broke through on the left before drilling the ball across the goalmouth but Diarra was unable to get a touch despite stretching himself at the far post.
In the 22nd minute Mali almost struck when Diarra flicked a long throw-in towards Ibourahima Sidibe, but his header was saved low at the near post by the Nigeria goalkeeper.
Diarra then forced a decent save from Agbim with a powerful shot from range in the 25th minute, while Kwambe Solomon saw his effort deflected wide at the other end five minutes later.
The Super Eagles had another effort on target from a freekick in the 33rd minute after Ugonna Uzochukwu was brought down by Cheick Doumbia but Kwambe's shot was saved by Diakite.
Mali asked the questions early in the first half when Agbim slapped Traore's corner into the path of Diarra in the 47th minute, but his effort was cleared off the line by Uzochukwu.
They did, however, double their lead three minutes later when Sidibe chipped the ball towards an unmarked Traore on the left side of the box, who then beat Agbim at the near post from a and he fires past Agbim from a tight angle.
Salami reduced the deficit in the 54rd minute, two minutes after coming off the bench, when he rose ahead of his marker in the centre of the box to nod Rabiu Ali's freekick past Soumalia Diakite.
The Eagles came close to restoring their two-goal cushion in the 69th minute when Traore set the ball up for Doumbia outside the box, but he was denied by a good save from Agbim, who dived low to his right.
Ten minutes later Sidibe found Adama Traore on the left again, but this time Agbim was able to stop his shot at the near post to keep his side in the game going into the last ten minutes.
93’ Diakite is beaten to the ball by Uzochukwu, who then plays it across goal, but Mali clear for a cornerScorers:Mali:
(1) 2 (Sissoko 18’, A Traore 50’)Nigeria:
(0) 1 (Salami 54’)Teams:Mali:
Konate, Sidibe (Lassine Diarra 90+1’), Keita, M Traore, Sissoko, Doumbia, Lassana Diarra, A Traore, I Samake, So Diakite, Y SamakeNigeria:
Agbim, Solomon, Benjamin, Uzochukwu, Odunlami, Egwuekwe, Ejike, Ali, Ibrahim (Salami 52’), Hillary (Shehu 54’), Ede