Tuesday Nov 17, 2020. 23:00
Mali defeated Group A rivals Namibia 2-1 at the Sam Nujoma Stadium in Windhoek on Tuesday night, with the result enough to secure them a place at the next Africa Cup of Nations finals.
The Eagles leapfrog to the head of the standings with 10 points and are guaranteed a top-two finish. As for the Brave Warriors, they remain third on the log and will have to overhaul a deficit of five points to second-placed Guinea if they are to return to the finals for a second successive time.
Mali began with confidence and claimed the lead in the 12th minute, with Sekout Koita getting on the end of an assist from Aliou Dieng before firing past goalkeeper Virgil Vries to make it 1-0 in favour of the visitors.
The Eagles kept up the pressure and claimed a second goal eight minutes before half time, with Moussa Doumbia showing his finishing skills in converting a chance created by the excellent El Bilal Toure.
Namibia struck back almost immediately through Elmo Kabindu, who took advantage of a rare lapse at the back from the away side, to bring themselves back into the game at 1-2 down heading into the half-time interval.
The Brave Warriors looked to shake things up with a double change at the start of the second half, replacing Ananias Gebhardt and Deon Hotto with Riaan Hanamub and Benson Shilongo.
Yet it was Mali who clicked back into top gear and dominated the early stages after the restart, eventually earning a penalty just before the hour mark. However, they were denied a third goal when Vries made a fine save to push away Toure’s spot kick.
The Brave Warriors threw numbers forward and pushed hard for an equaliser in the dying minutes, but Mali were able to hold out for a decisive victory which ensures they will play at the Nations Cup for an eighth successive tournament.
Namibia (1) 1 (Elmo Kabindu 39’)
Mali (2) 2 (Sekou Koita 12’, Moussa Doumbia 37’)
Namibia: Virgil Vries, Ananias Gebhardt (Riaan Hanamub 46’), Denzil Haoseb, Larry Horaeb, Deon Hotto (Benson Shilongo 46’ [Panduleni Nekundi 88’]), Elmo Kabindu, Absalom Limbondi (Salomon Omseb 87’), Vitapi Ngaruka, Ryan Nyambe, Petrus Shitembi (Marcel Papama 69’), Peter Shalulile
Mali: Ibrahim Mounkoro, Mohamed Camara, Lassana Coulibaly, Aliou Dieng (Adama Traore 60’), Moussa Doumbia (Kalifa Coulibaly 71’), Amadou Haidara, Sekou Coita (Cheick Doucoure 80’), Boubacar Kouyate, Falaye Sacko, El Bilal Toure, Hamari Traore