Amadou Haidara’s thunderbolt first-half goal saw Mali finish 1-0 winners and top Group E at the Total Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Egypt 2019 at the Ismailia Stadium, Ismailia, on Tuesday night.
Mali have now booked a date against former champions Cote d’Ivoire in the round of 16 next Monday in Suez.
Haidara struck a wonderful left footed shot, a certain contender for goal of the tournament award, off a Mousa Doumbia layup in the 37th minute. It turned out to be the only goal of the tie against Angola and see the Malians finish the group unbeaten with seven points off two wins and a draw.
Angola were hoping for at least a draw to squeeze into the last 16 as one of the four best third-placed teams, but the loss means they now head home with only two points off back to back draws.
Mali dominated most of the first half creating several scoring chances and were duly rewarded when Haidara struck a belter eight minutes ahead of the break, leaving the keeper rooted to his spot.
Earlier on, Mali had forced Angolan keeper Tony Cabaca to do some work on his line with the shot-stopper stretching fully to save shots from Adama Traore and Falaye Sacko. Lassana Coulibaly also had a chance but his header from a corner bounced inches wide off target.
In the second half, Angola knowing they needed nothing but a win came back better and made two attacking changes, skipper Mateus da Costa and Fredy Ribeiro coming off for the fresh legs of Manuel Show Cristovao Bamululu.
Show immediately got into the thick of things and within a minute of coming on had a go at goal from range, but his effort flew over the target. Angola continued to pressure and came close in the 54th minute when Hermenegildo Geraldo swept in a cross from the right but the keeper came out to avert danger.
With Angola pushing for a goal, Mali also sought to go all out attack and coach Mohammed Magassouba pulled out Doumbia for youngster Sekou Koita.
In the latter stages of the tie, with Angola getting frustrated, Mali came close to a second but Adama Noss’s shot from range was well saved by the keeper.
After his stellar performance, Haidara was named the Total Man of the Match.
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