Mali see off Angola to finish top of Group E

Amadou Haidara of Mali (4) celebrates goal with teammates during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations match between Angola and Mali at the Ismailia Stadium, Ismailia on the 02 July 2019 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Amadou Haidara’s thunderbolt from 25 yards out after 37 minutes saw Mali finish top of Group E at the Total Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Egypt 2019 and book a date against former champions Cote d'Ivoire in the round of 16 next Monday in Suez.

Haidara struck a wonderful left footed shot, contender for goal of the tournament, off a Mousa Doumbia lay up to score the lone goal of the tie against Angola and see the Malians finish the group unbeaten with seven points off two wins and a draw.

Angola were hoping for at least a draw to squeeze in to the last 16 as one of the four best third paced teams, but the loss means they now head home with only two points off back to back draws.

Mali dominated most of the first half creating several scoring chances and were duly rewarded when Haidara struck a belter eight minutes to the break leaving the keeper rooted to his spot.

Earlier on, they had forced Angolan keeper Tony Cabaca to do some work on his line with the shot stopper stretching fully to save shots from Adama Traore and Falaye Sacko. Lassana Coulibaly also had a chance but his header from a corner bounced inches wide off target.

In the second half, Angola knowing they needed nothing but a win came back better and made two attacking changes, skipper Mateus da Costa and Fredy Ribeiro coming off for the fresh legs of Manuel Show Cristovao Bamululu.

Show immediately got into the thick of things and within a minute of coming on had a go at goal from range, but his effort was awry going way over the target. Angola continued to prod and came close in the 54th minute when Hermenegildo Geraldo swept in a cross from the right but the keeper came out to avert danger.

With Angola pushing for a goal, Mali also sought to go all out attack and coach Mohammed Magassouba pulled out Doumbia for youngster Sekou Koita.

In the latter stages of the tie, with Angola getting frustrated, Mali came close to a second but Adama Noss’s shot from range was well saved by the keeper.

What they said

Amadou Haidara (Total Man of the match)

I wanted to give everything for this match, and those who know me know that I often score such goals. I would really like to congratulate Mali for the victory because we qualified, we have a young team and we have had a long time playing together.

Mohamed Magassouba (Coach, Mali)

We wanted to turn the team in. Five basic players were under suspension threat, and we had to protect them from a bad surprise. I really want to congratulate my players.

Srdjan Vasiljevic (Coach, Angola)

I congratulate Mali, my players did their best but it was not enough. We had 3 or 4 chances to score and even though we tried to compete. We did not manage against this strong team. This team has individual qualities that they used wisely.