Moussa Marega of Mali challenged by Yassine Merriah of Tunisia during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Finals match between Tunisia and Mali at Suez Stadium, Suez, Egypt on 28 June 2019 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Friday Jun 28, 2019. 18:18
Mali claimed a valuable point in their quest to advance from Group E of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations as they held Tunisia 1-1 in Suez on Friday.
The result sees Mali’s Eagles remain on top of the pool on four points and well placed to advance into the last 16. The Carthage Eagles are in second spot but a haul of just two points leaves them vulnerable to being overtaken by either Angola or Mauritania, who will meet in Group E’s other second-round match on Saturday.
Tunisia were the first to threaten a goal, with Wahbi Khazri’s shot direct from a free kick in the fifth minute rattling the crossbar, though the agility of Mali goalkeeper Djigui Diarra looked to have the effort covered had it been on target.
The North Africans had further opportunities through Khazri and forward Naim Sliti, though Mali tightened up their defence and ensured Diarra had no further notable involvement (apart from being on the end of a couple of hefty challenges from Tunisian forwards) in the remainder of the first half.
The Eagles looked to use their physicality to good effect, but struggled to find space against the well-organised defence of their opponents. Dangerous striker Moussa Marega was mostly restricted to long-range efforts, none of which troubled Tunisian goalkeeper Hassen Mouez.
The score was locked at 0-0 at half time. Tunisia again threatened first after the restart, with Yassine Khenissi flicking a header just over the target from a 57th minute corner kick.
However, on the hour mark, Mali claimed the lead thanks to a poor goalkeeping error from Mouez. Diadie Samassekou’s in-swinging corner kick was horribly misjudged by the gloves-man, who only managed to palm the ball into his own net.
Tunisia responded by introducing the likes of Youssef Msakni and Firas Chaouat, but it was the talismanic Khazri who claimed a somewhat lucky equaliser on 70 minutes, as his shot from a free kick took a wicked deflection off the wall which gave Diarra no chance, leaving the game at 1-1.
The teams traded half-chances in what remained of the game, with the most notable of which was Marega denied by goalkeeper Mouez in the 90th minute after springing the offside trap, but the final whistle saw the opponents settling for a share of the spoils.
Tunisia (0) 1 (Khazri 70’)
Mali (0) 1 (Samassekou/Mouez og 60’)
Tunisia: Mouez, Kechrida, Bronn, Meriah, Hadadi, Khazri, Skhiri, Chaaleli, Badri (Msakni 61’), Khenissi (Chaouat 70’), Naim (Mohamed 84’)
Mali: Diarra, H. Traore, Kone, Wague, Fofana, Haidara (Noss 86’), Samassekou, L. Coulibaly, Marega, Djenepo (Doumbia 75’), Diaby (A. Traore I 80’)