Bafana Bafana suffer disappointing loss to Mali in AFCON opener

Bafana Bafana conceded two second-half goals in the space of six minutes to lose 2-0 to Mali in their Africa Cup of Nations opening match.

Captain Hamari Traore tapped his side into a 60th-minute lead in the Group E encounter in Korhogo before striker Lassine Sinayoko quickly added a second. South Africa had the better of the opening period but paid a heavy price for a penalty miss from Al Ahly forward Percy Tau. Following a relatively uneventful start to the match, the 1996 champions were handed a golden chance to edge ahead after Evidence Makgopa was caught in the face by the elbow of Sikou Niakate inside Mali’s box.

Egyptian referee Mohamed Edel pointed to the spot following VAR intervention, only for Tau to wastefully fire his 19th-minute effort high over the crossbar.Tau, who left the Seagulls to join Egyptian club Al Ahly in 2021, was then twice denied by Mali goalkeeper Djigui Diarra as he sought to make amends.

Mali barely threatened in the opening period but nearly snatched the lead in added time when poor defending from Siyanda Xulu and Mothobi Mvala was almost punished by Auxerre forward Sinayoko. RB Leipzig midfielder Amadou Haidara should have put 1972 runners-up Mali in front just four minutes into the second period but he somehow skied over after being slipped clear by Sekou Koita.

Eric Chelle’s side were far better after the restart and grabbed the lead with half an hour remaining.Koita’s curling left-footed free-kick from the edge of the box was kept out by a combination of South Africa keeper Ronwen Williams and the bar but fell kindly for Real Sociedad defender Traore to poke home.

Sinayoko put the result beyond doubt only six minutes later, escaping Xulu to latch on to Kamory Doumbia’s through ball and jab beyond Bafana Bafana captain Williams. South Africa never looked like salvaging anything from the game in the closing stages, albeit they did strike the left post through a speculative long-range free-kick deep into added time.

(story credit: SABC Sport)

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