Ivory Coast 0-1 Mali
DR Congo 1-1 Guinea (5-4)
DR Congo vs Mali 6:30pm
Midfielder Yves Bissouma came off the bench to score a late winner as Mali defeated Ivory Coast 1-0 in the second semi-final of the ongoing Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) on Thursday. Mali will now face DR Congo in Sunday’s final at Amahoro National stadium.
In an exciting second semi-final match played at Kigali Regional Stadium in Nyamirambo, the West African rivals cancelled out each other on numerous occasions, and as time ticked away and extra time looking likely, Bissouma broke the Ivorians’ hearts with an 89th minute winner.
The midfielder, who came on off the bench in the 76th minute to replace Sekou Koita, did well to control a diagonal long over-head pass inside the Ivory Coast penalty box, therefore beating off two defenders to slot the ball under the arms of the advancing goalkeeper, Badra Ali Sangare.
Mali will now face the Democratic Republic of Congo in the final on Sunday while Ivory Coast, who were among the tournament favourites, will take on Guinea in the third place playoff.
“I am very pleased for my team. We were on good level in the game, and don’t forget that we could have scored earlier because we created a number of good scoring opportunities,” Mali head coach Djibril Drame said in a post match new conference.
He added that, “It was a very tactical game on both sides, we tried to score early but we missed many chances and missed a penalty in the first half but we didn’t give up because we knew we could score. I am happy for my players for the work they have done in the tournament.”
Ivory Coast started the brighter of the two teams, but Mali grew in confidence and composure as the game grew older—and their winning goal was a result of persistent pressure they had mounted on the Ivory Coast defence.
Mali were awarded a penalty in the 33rd minute but Mamadou Coulibaly’s effort was well saved by Sangare.
Ivory Coast coach Michel Dussuye said, “It was a high intensity game and we had a little bit of fatigue. We made one mistake and they punished us. We started the game well but we had some difficulty to stay with the ball and that’s why we have been defeated.”
“Today we didn’t play our game. We didn’t show any sign of a good team, we didn’t have focus and we had some problem with our physical condition, so we have let ourselves down,” the Frenchman acknowledged.
The winner of CHAN 2016 will, besides the trophy, walk away with $750,000 while the runner-up will earn $400,000. Guinea and Ivory Coast will take home $250.000 each while each of the eight quarter-finalists will receive $175.000.