Skip to main content

Mali bring cheer with Africa Cup of Nations progress

January 28, 2013 -- Updated 2143 GMT (0543 HKT)
Mali football fans, some significantly sporting hats in French colors, follow their team at the Nations Cup in South Africa.
Mali football fans, some significantly sporting hats in French colors, follow their team at the Nations Cup in South Africa.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mali draw 1-1 with Democratic Republic of Congo to qualify for last eight of Nations Cup
  • Ghana top Group B after thumping Niger 3-0 in Port Elizabeth
  • Mali to meet hosts South Africa in quarterfinals, while Ghana will meet Cape Verde

(CNN) -- Mali's footballers brought some welcome relief to their compatriots when drawing 1-1 with the Democratic Republic of Congo to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinals.

The point in Durban enabled the West Africans to go through in second place, behind Group B winners Ghana who outclassed Niger 3-0 in Port Elizabeth.

On a day when French-led troops took hold of the historic city of Timbuktu as Mali authorities continue their battle to loosen Islamist militants' grip on the country's north, the team nicknamed the Eagles booked their place in the last eight.

Read: French-led forces in Mali take Timbuktu

Perhaps fittingly, the football success was also engineered with the help of a Frenchman as Patrice Carteron ensured his side progressed to a knockout clash against hosts South Africa.

Mali, who finished third at last year's Nations Cup, recovered from going a goal behind to Dieumerci Mbokani's third-minute penalty to draw level 11 minutes later through Mahamadou Samassa.

What led to Mali's disintegration?
Tiny island makes football history
Assou-Ekotto: Education is key

The Eagles could have taken the lead late on when substitute Cheick Tidiane Diabate hit the post before midfielder Seydou Keita was denied by Congolese goalkeeper Robert Kidiaba, 37, in stoppage time.

After Mali opened their Group B campaign with a 1-0 over group outsiders Niger, former Barcelona star Keita wore a T-shirt with the words "Peace for Mali" as he gathered his man of the match award.

At the 2012 finals, Mali's most decorated footballer -- who boasts three Spanish La Liga titles and two European Champions League medals among other trophies -- had broken down in tears as Islamists took control of the north of his country amidst fierce fighting.

During a news conference in South Africa earlier this month, the Eagles captain announced his desire for one of Mali's allies --- "be it France or our neighbors" -- to return order to the north of the country as quickly as possible.

He had also mentioned that the Islamist militants' ban on watching sports on television, among other measures such as outlawing music and smoking, meant that some people in the north would have been unable to gain relief from the conflict by following the Eagles in South Africa.

"Our country is in one of the most difficult moments of its history," he said after Monday's draw with the Congolese.

"Malians are regaining control of the north and our qualification will bring joy to the people. I am very proud."

While Mali will seek to reach the semifinals for the second tournament in a row against Bafana Bafana in Durban, Ghana will face high fliers Cape Verde in Saturday's first quarterfinal.

Read: Cape Verde have Nations Cup lift-off

The Black Stars, who are the second favorites to win the competition behind Didier Drogba's Ivory Coast side, beat Niger with goals from Asamoah Gyan, Christian Atsu and John Boye.

"We stepped up our game and won against a good Niger team," said Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah, a squad member when the Black Stars last won the Cup of Nations 31 years ago in Libya.

"We hope to do better as we progress in this competition."

Ghana were beaten in the semifinals last year by Zambia, who will look to book their berth in the last eight when taking on Group C leaders Burkina Faso on Tuesday.

In the day's other game, Nigeria's Super Eagles need a win against Ethiopia to be sure of avoiding early elimination from the finals.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1123 GMT (1923 HKT)
After 20 years, more than 300 goals and a host of major honors, Thierry Henry has called time on his glittering football career.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1014 GMT (1814 HKT)
They do things differently at Sociedad Deportiva Eibar, up in the mist-cloaked valleys of the Basque country. And it is working.
December 10, 2014 -- Updated 1353 GMT (2153 HKT)
He might be struggling to score goals for Liverpool, but Mario Balotelli's cheeky tweet about the British monarch hit the spot during the World Cup.
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 1253 GMT (2053 HKT)
How Real Madrid's new stadium will look
They splash the cash on the world's best players, now Real Madrid are giving the Bernabeu the same treatment with a bling makeover.
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 1309 GMT (2109 HKT)
Football world mourns South African captain Senzo Meyiwa who was shot and killed during a botched robbery in a township near Johannesburg.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1348 GMT (2148 HKT)
A man as a Roman centurion and who earn his living by posing with tourists gestures in front of the Colosseum during a protest where some of his colleagues climbed on the monument on April 12, 2012 in Rome. The costumed centurions are asking for the right to work there after they were banned following a decision by local authorities.
From the ancient ruins of Rome, a new empire rises. But the eyes of the city's newest gladiator light up at thoughts of the Colosseum.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1622 GMT (0022 HKT)
Once part of Germany's largest Jewish sports club, now he's the first ISIS suspect to stand trial in a country left shocked by his alleged radicalization.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1411 GMT (2211 HKT)
One goal in eight matches for new club Liverpool, and dumped by the Italian national team -- Mario Balotelli has yet to shine on his English return.
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1819 GMT (0219 HKT)
Ched Evans smiles during the Wales training session ahead of their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against England on March 25, 2011 in Cardiff, Wales.
Should a convicted rapist, who has served their time in prison, be allowed to resume their old job? What if that job was as a high-profile football player?
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1247 GMT (2047 HKT)
After 10 years of golden glory, it's easy to see how Lionel Messi has taken his place among the football gods.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1034 GMT (1834 HKT)
A football fan wipes a tear after Inter Milan's Argentinian defender Javier Zanetti has greeted fans following the announcement of his retirement before the start of the Italian seria A football match Inter Milan vs Lazio, on May 10, 2014, in San Siro Stadium In Milan
When will the tears stop? A leading Italian football club is pursuing a new direction -- under the guidance of its new Indonesian owner.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 2241 GMT (0641 HKT)
Norwegian 15-year-old Martin Odegaard is the youngest player ever to feature in a European Championships qualifying match.
October 10, 2014 -- Updated 1310 GMT (2110 HKT)
After revolutionizing cricket with its glitzy Twenty20 league, India has now thrown large sums of money at a new football venture.
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 1453 GMT (2253 HKT)
Get ruthless. That is Rio Ferdinand's message to soccer's authorities in the fight to tackle the scourge of racism.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1328 GMT (2128 HKT)
A picture taken on May 16, 2014 shows 15-year-old Norwegian footballer Martin Oedegaard of club Stroemsgodset IF cheering during a match in Drammen, Norway. Oedegaard is set to become Norways youngest player ever in the national football team.
He's just 15 and the world is seemingly already at his feet. Norway's Martin Odegaard is being sought by Europe's top clubs.
ADVERTISEMENT