AFCON 2023: Late drama as hosts Cote d’Ivoire edge Mali in come-back thriller

Simon Adingra (R) celebrates alongside his Ivory Coast teammate Sebastien Haller in their AFCON Quarterfinal match against Mali on Saturday evening (Photo/CAF_Online)

Abidjan, (CIV): AFCON hosts Cote d’Ivoire pulled off an extraordinary comeback win on Saturday to beat Mali 2-1 after extra time and reach the semi-finals of the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations.

In a dramatic quarter-final at the Stade de la Paix in Bouake, the Elephants who finished the game with 10 men 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 Elephants level going into 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.

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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.

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Cotê d’Ivoire will play DR Congo in the semi-finals at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan on Wednesday, 07 February.

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