Tournament hosts Cote d’Ivoire pulled off an extraordinary comeback win despite being reduced to 10 men to beat Mali 2-1 after extra time and reach the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals.
Ivory Coast summons ‘Elephants’ spirit to battle to eliminate Mali with a 2-1 win to reach semis
In a dramatic quarter-final at the Stade de la Paix in Bouake, the Elephants were dealt an early blow when Odilon Kossounou conceded a penalty and was sent off in the first half for fouling Lassine Sinayoko.
However, keeper Yahia Fofana saved Adama Traore’s spot kick to keep the Elehpants level at the break.
Outnumbered, the hosts were eventually breached in the 71st minute when Mali substitute Nene Dorgeles fired in from the edge of the box to give the Eagles a deserved lead.
But the Ivorians showed tremendous spirit and equalised against the run of play through Simon Adingra, who pounced on a rebound after Seko Fofana’s long-range drive was parried.
The game went to extra time, where the heroics of keeper Fofana kept Mali at bay once more.
As penalties loomed, Oumar Diakete snatched a dramatic late winner for Ivory Coast with a clever backheel finish in the 119th minute.
In an epic encounter, the Elephants once again showed their fighting spirit to stun another big rival and keep their AFCON dream alive.
Cotê d’Ivoire will play DR Congo in the semi-finals at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan on Wednesday, 07 February.
- Côte d’Ivoire have won their first Africa Cup of Nations game that has gone to extra-time since the quarter-finals of the 1992 edition they eventually won (1-0 v Senegal, 11 penalty shoot-outs and one defeat between those wins).
- Mali and Côte d’Ivoire have both scored eight goals via substitutes at the African Cup of Nations since 2010. Only Egypt have scored more via players coming off the bench over that period (10). Indeed, it’s the first AFCON game to see goals scored by three different substitutes since 2010.
- Odilon Kossounou and Oumar Diakité are the first Côte d’Ivoire players to be sent off in the Africa Cup of Nations since Gervinho against Guinea in 2015.
- Yahia Fofana is the first Côte d’Ivoire goalkeeper to save a penalty at the Africa Cup of Nations since 2010 – 8 faced over that period.
- Mali’s Diadié Samassékou provided his second assist at the African Cup of Nations, doing so previously against Mauritania in his very first appearance in the competition back in 2019.
- Côte d’Ivoire’s Oumar Diakité is the first player to score a goal in the 120th minute in the Africa Cup of Nations since Jaouad Zairi for Morocco against Algeria in the quarter-finals in 2004.
WHAT THEY SAID
Emerse Faé – Cotê d’Ivoire coach
I am very happy because it was a very very difficult game, we played against a tough team and they gave us a lot of problems at the first half which we had it hard.
The objective was to stop them from playing their game and we had it very hard getting at that and they actually put us in a very difficult situation because of the red card we received, it did not help us at all.
We did not give up, we tried to put a plan into place to be able to contain them and to be able to keep the ball.
We were not far from being eliminated, the players especially, didn’t give up, they fought into the end.
Our state of mind is to look at the scenario of the game, we were trying to win with 10 against 11, they were in the lead and it was tactically difficult for us because they were almost the best at that time. Tactically, I think we played a good game.
These are positive signs that give hope. I prefer not have a lot of suspense, we were able to study the very beginning of the game and we had tactical problems 15 minutes into the game.
We need to revise how we start our games, we have to master the game from the beginning and not to be obliged to have a lot of pressure.
Éric Sékou Chelle – Mali national team head coach
This is really difficult for us to digest, we managed to put up a great match, this was a great match indeed and in the last minutes, we collapsed.
We decided to comeback to a system of 5 defenders because there were lot of balls in the air and we had to manage that.
I am sad for the players because this generation of players are talented and they deserve more.
I think there are a lot of teams that can’t do what my team is doing right now.
I asked my players to play to win and we had a good game, lot of interesting situations, we had two penalties and only one was given We saw a hand with the ball that was not awarded, this is something we need to take a look at and the red card was a legitimate one.