• Friday, March 01, 2024
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AFCON: Extra time goal sends Ivory Coast into semi-finals

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Oumar Diakite scored an extra time goal to power host nation Ivory Coast into the semi-finals of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

Niakite’s 122nd back-heel goal at the end of extra time was enough to seal a 2-1 win over Mali in Bouake on Saturday after a dramatic AFCON quarter-final.

Ivory Coast were reduced to 10 men after Odilon Kossounou was dismissed for two first-half fouls on Lassine Sinayoko and the Elephants fell behind to Nene Dorgeles’ classy curler. But the Elephants equalised right on 90 minutes through Simon Adringa .

The result marked another upward turn for the Ivory Coast in a roller coaster AFCON campaign in which they scraped into the knockout stage after a 4-0 defeat to Equatorial Guinea.

It was a heartbreaking outcome for Mali, who dominated for long periods and, despite missing a penalty, seemed set to maintain a record of never losing a Cup of Nations quarter-final.

Ivory Coast now return to Abidjan, where they will face the Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday in the semi-finals, but Diakite is set to miss out after picking up a second yellow card while celebrating his winning goal.

This was the sixth meeting of the countries in the AFCON with the two-time champions Ivory Coast winning four and drawing one previously against rivals whose best showing was 1972 runners-up.

Ivory Coast caretaker coach Emerse Fae made three changes to the lineup that started in the dramatic last-16 penalty shootout triumph over defending champions Senegal.

The final whistle yielded unpleasant scenes as several Mali players surrounded the canter referee Mohamed Adel and Hamari Traore was shown a red card confronting the referee.