Bafana vs Mali battle ends in draw

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Pretoria - Bafana Bafana are still on top of group A after a match ending in a 1-all draw against their West African rivals, the Eagles of Mali.

This was Bafana’s second showing in CHAN 2014 at Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday evening.

With this draw, the Eagles of Mali -- who are in second position in the group, also with four points -- have high chances to proceed to the next stage of the tournament, as they will face minnows Mozambique in their last group stage match.

Bafana’s last match against Nigeria will be tricky, especially if Nigeria beat Mozambique tonight in another group A match.   

The first five minutes of the game saw the CHAN 2014 hosts knocking the ball nicely going forward, but with no attempt at a goal.

In the 9th minute, Itumeleng Khune brought down Abdoulaye Sissoko in the box in what appeared to be a penalty; but the referee gave the Eagles a corner, making the Bafana skipper lucky to get away with his foul.

Lassana Diarra should have punished Bafana from the corner, but his shot went wide. A moment later, Siphiwe Tshabalala combined very well with Edward Manqele upfront, but his chip went wide and high.

 

When Thato Mokeke fouled Sissoko outside the box in the 15th minute, Mali once again failed to get an early goal as Adama Traore powered his shot over the bar.   

 

While Mokeke continued to keep Sissoko out of action, Bafana winger Lindokuhle Mbatha was troubling the so-called Mali solid defence with his brilliant moves going forward.

 

Combining well with Hlompho Kekana, Tshabalala, Manqele and Mbatha continued attacking on the right flank and this forced Mali defender Traore to the edge of the box, but instead of being awarded a free-kick, Bafana got a penalty.  

 

Bernard Parker took a powerful spot-kick to put his country in the lead. This was Parker’s third goal in the CHAN tournament.

 

Parker has now scored 22 international goals. He is one behind Katlego Mphela and 10 from becoming the leading all-time goal scorer for Bafana.

 

After conceding the goal, the West Africans started to play with more intent, but the Bafana defence, comprising Thabo Nthethe, Vuyo Mere and Mokeke proved too strong to be pierced apart.

 

Mbatha should have put Bafana in the lead in the 37th minute when he found himself in a goal scoring opportunity, but he failed to give his shot enough power to beat the veteran Mali goalkeeper, Diakite. His shot was blocked for a corner.

 

Three minutes before half-time, Mali’s top striker Sissoko was unlucky when his powerful shot that beat Khune hit the woodwork.

 

Bafana never stopped keeping Diakite busy as he punched Manqele’s rocket over the top bar and just before the referee blew the whistle for the half-time break, Khune saw Diakite off his line and quickly took the free-kick, which hit the wrong side of the net.

 

The Eagles of Mali came back from the second half looking more formidable.

 

Their efforts to get an equaliser paid off in the 54th minute when Sidibé received a long pass from his goalkeeper and made a brilliant run into the box before he unleashed a shot into the top corner.

 

His goal not only left Khune disappointed, but it also silenced local fans at the stadium. This prompted Bafana coach Gordon Igesund to make his first substitute of the match, bringing in Asavela Mbekile to replace Manqele -- a move to push Parker upfront as the top striker.

 

In the 62nd minute, Traore should have put his side in the lead following some poor defence by Nthethe, but with Khune well beaten, his shot went wide.

 

The noise level at the stadium picked up when Parker received a nice pass from Tshabalala in the box and made a quick turn before firing a low shot, but Diakite went down well to make a brilliant save.

 

With only 10 minutes to play, Mbatha got another chance to score a winning goal for Bafana, but his shot was saved so easily by Diakite as it lacked power.

South Africa starting XI: Khune, Mere, Nthethe, Mkhwanazi, Mokeke, Mbatha, Kekana, Pattison, Tshabalala, Parker, Manqele.

Mali starting XI: Diakité, Samaké, Keita, Konaté, Traoré, Doumbia, Samaké, Sissoko, Sidibé, Traoré, Lassana. - SAnews.gov.za

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