FULL TIME: Guinea 1-1 Mali

  • Matchday three in Group D is finished. Guinea and Mali simply could not be separated. Lots will have to be drawn to determine who qualifies to face Ghana, with that event set to take place tomorrow at the CAF hotel. Mali dominated this game, but simply could not find a response to Constant’s penalty outside of Maiga’s early second-half goal. Cote d’Ivoire also wrapped up a 1-0 win against Cameroon to book their place in the last eight.
  • 90′ + 4′
    That’s the end of the game! It finishes 1-1.
  • 90′ + 3′
    Cisse goes down after an off-the-ball incident on the touchline, and hilariously decides to roll two feet to his right to get back on the pitch, and ensure that the game has to be stopped for him to get treated. Comedy in the middle of a conundrum.
  • 90′ + 2′
    Deep into injury time now, and Mali try to cause some late danger with a deep set piece. However, Naby Yattara shows great bravery to rush into a sea of players and get considerable distance on his punch.
  • 90′ + 1′
    SubstitutionMamoutou N’DiayeAbdou Traoré
  • 90′
    We’re on the cusp of stoppage time, and both Guinea and Mali are set to play out their third straight 1-1 draw in the Africa Cup of Nations group stage. In the other game, Cote d’Ivoire still lead Cameroon 1-0.
  • 88′
    Soumah takes charge of the set piece, but it’s a horrendous effort that rebounds off the defence and nearly sparks an Aigles counter at the other end. Worse than Keita’s minutes ago.
  • 87′
    Mohamed Yattara is clipped near the edge of the Mali box, in a similar position to les Aigles’ free-kick chance moments ago. Guinea have a base camp to build one of the final attacks of this game.
  • 86′
    NEARLY A GUINEA WINNER! Soumah snakes his way to the near post, but delays his shot for too long, and that allows Coulibaly to make a much-needed challenge from point-blank range!
  • 85′
    Mustapha Yatabare, who had that no-call for a penalty earlier in the first half, is substituted for his namesake Sambou. No relation.
  • 84′
    SubstitutionKevin ConstantAbdoul Camara
  • 84′
    SubstitutionMustapha YatabareSambou Yatabare
  • 84′
    After a long and menacing buildup with Keita standing over the ball, it all ends in anticlimactic fashion, as the former Barcelona midfielder plants the set-piece right into the Guinea wall.
  • 82′
    FREE KICK in a dangerous position for les Aigles! Maiga, the best player in the second half, is tripped on the edge of the area by a sloppy tackle. Guinea better get this wall just right. Huge moment coming up…
  • 80′
    It would be incredibly harsh on Mali to see them rely on the literal luck of the draw to progress to the last eight. They were denied maximum points by late goals in their opening two group games, and have outplayed Guinea here.
  • 78′
    SET-PIECE SCRAMBLE! Seydou Keita has started to put some spice behind his deliveries! His latest supply from a dead ball drops menacingly into the six-yard box and after a few ricochets, it bounces into the grateful arms of Naby Yattara! Close call.
  • 76′
    FREE HEADER! Mali get another glimpse at glory, as Seydou Keita’s set-piece from the right is floated to the top of the six-yard area, where Wague nods the ball the wrong side of the post, with Naby Yattara rooted to the spot!
  • 74′
    Guinea have shown precious little attacking ambition in this contest, particularly in the second half. They’ve invited the pressure from Mali, but les Aigles too are starting to run out of ideas in the final third.
  • 72′
    SubstitutionAbdoulay DiabyBakary Sako
  • 72′
    Hat-trick of involvements for Diaby in the last three minutes. He sees his number up on the sidelines as Sako is primed to replace him. The Wolves winger scored a fashionable goal against Cote d’Ivoire, and Kasperczak will be praying for a similar impact.
  • 70′
    Yellow Card Abdoulay Diaby
  • 70′
    Diaby is then booked for a bit of gamesmanship involving Soumah. Only the second booking of this game and shockingly, the first against Mali. It serves to disrupt the rhythm of this contest even further.
  • 69′
    CLOSE CALL for Diaby, who stretches the defence with his pace, but just about fails to keep himself onside. Good decision by the linesman, as Guinea were set to be in real trouble had the flag stayed down!
  • 67′
    Still 1-0 to Cote d’Ivoire in the other Group D game, meaning that the Elephants are poised for qualification, while Guinea-Mali are set for lots. Of course, a Cameroon goal, and all four teams will be heading into the hat!
  • 65′
    The goalmouth action has rather dried up in recent minutes as the players visibly start to fatigue, with less than half an hour to go. Diakite has to jog off to the sidelines to receive treatment after a challenge.
  • 63′
    Ibrahima Traore has been mainly used as a Mali punching bag in this game, and his night is at an end. On comes Soumah in his place. A potential game-changer off the bench, given that the 23-year-old was the Syli Nationale’s top scorer in qualification for this tournament.
  • 62′
    SubstitutionIbrahima TraoreSeydouba Soumah
  • 61′
    Mali have forced a series of corners in recent minutes, but Seydou Keita’s deliveries have been seriously lacking for a player of his pedigree. Everything that has left his boot today has turned to ashes.
  • 59′
    Maiga continues to torment the Guinea defence, and storms past Cisse to deliver a threatening ball into the area, but no one in white can make the vital connection. Les Aigles pushing for the winner!
  • 57′
    SubstitutionIssiaga SyllaDjibril Tamsir Paye
  • 57′
    Dussuyer recognizes the danger posed by the shaky Issiaga Sylla’s yellow card, especially given Mali’s proficiency down that flank. The right-back has been substituted and on comes Djibril Paye in his stead.
  • 55′
    Yellow Card Issiaga Sylla
  • 55′
    Finally we have a booking! Is this real life? Ironically it’s Guinea who are awarded the first yellow card of the match, despite all the Mali antics in the first half. Issiaga Sylla’s miserable evening continues as he gets pulled up and cautioned for a foul on Diaby.
  • 53′
    SAVED BY NABY YATTARA! The Guinea keeper has to bail out his side as they appear on the verge of collapse. Maiga, full of confidence from his opener, takes on two players before teeing up N’Diaye, whose low scorcher is pushed away by the goalkeeper!
  • 51′
    Guinea are rattled since conceding, and Mali have wasted no time in trying to force play down the right-hand side once again. Issiaga Sylla has once again proven himself incapable of closing out wide men quickly enough.
  • 49′
    Doesn’t that just set it all up! Should this scoreline endure, then lots will be required to determine the second qualifier! It would be a terribly anticlimactic and potentially stomach-punch end to the group to resort to picking names out of a hat.
  • 47′
    Assist Yacouba Sylla
  • 47′
    Goal Modibo Maiga
    MALI HAVE TIED IT UP! That didn’t take long! The cross comes in from the right flank, and Maiga is left all alone at the back post. He doesn’t even need to leave the ground – simply angling his neck to plant the leveler home with his head!
  • 46′
    After some delay to ensure that both Group D games kick off at the exact same time, the referee finally signals for the start of the second half. Mali get the ball rolling again.
  • As things stand, Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire both will qualify from Group D, thanks to their respective 1-0 leads at half time. The drama is far from over though. I’ll be bringing you the second half in just a bit, so do stay tuned.
  • Guinea take a narrow lead into the break, thanks to Constant’s cheeky penalty. That goal came either side of more spot-kick drama for Mali. Yattabare was denied a call after he was clearly fouled in the box, before Keita missed the chance at a leveler with a waifish attempt from 12 yards out that was easily saved. Les Aigles have generally been the better side, though they’ve been fortunate to escape a few bookings thanks to some inexplicable generosity from the match officials.
  • 45′ + 1′
    The referee ends the first half.
  • 44′
    It’s open season out on the pitch, and Guinea are the hunted. YET ANOTHER terrible Mali challenge goes unpunished by referee Mohamed Kordi beyond a free-kick. The officiating has been laughable so far, and that’s sadly not the first time I’ve had to form that opinion in the AFCON.
  • 43′
    Guinea pull off their first competent attacking move in I don’t know how long. Issiaga Sylla and Conte link up excellently down the left-hand side, with the former advancing to the byline and squeezing the ball in for Traore to hit. However, the shot lacks enough power to take it past Berthe.
  • 41′
    Mali have been on top in terms of the tempo of this game, but they’ve been helped by some generosity from the referee. The match official has aided their high-tempo approach by refusing to flash the yellow card on a few particularly shattering challenges. N’Diaye on Traore is the latest such incident that goes unpunished.
  • 39′
    All that Gradel goal does is set up the inevitable equalisers from Mali and Cameroon. One-one draws all around. You heard it here first.
  • 38′
    GROUP D UPDATE: Cote d’Ivoire have taken the lead against Cameroon. Max Gradel has done the damage with a simply stunning hit from long distance. The Elephants, along with Guinea, are poised for qualification at the moment.
  • 36′
    SNAP SHOT SAVED! Maiga drives into space about 25 yards from goal, and suddenly lets fly with a right-footed effort that needs the fingertips of Naby Yattara to brush it over the crossbar!
  • 34′
    Tamboura is a blessed soul. For the second time, he clatters into a Guinea player with reckless abandon, this time causing Camara some distress. For some reason, referee Mohamed Kordi lets the defender off again with a lecture. He’s surely on his last warning.
  • 32′
    Guinea are resorting to speculative long balls over the top in a bid to relieve the pressure in their half. Keep in mind that as things stand, the Syli Nationale are the only Group D side heading into the quarter-finals. Waaaaaay too early to be shutting up shop defensively though!
  • 30′
    A fantastic first half hour of this match. The tempo has settled down after the craziness of the opening 20 minutes or so. Mali are comfortably the better side despite their deficit, completely controlling the midfield areas.
  • 28′
    In other Group D news, it’s still 0-0 between Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire. The Elephants have peppered the Indomitable Lions’ goal twice already in that game, and look the more likely side to open the scoring.
  • 26′
    My edge so far has to to go Mali. Issiaga Sylla, the Guinea left-back, has been utterly incapable of handling runners at pace when isolated. Conte has had to cover for him on more than one occasion.
  • 24′
    This match is already shaping up to be a storybook conclusion to a completely unpredictable group. The players clearly have the gravitas of the occasion on their mind, as there is panic at both ends whenever the ball enters the final third. For us neutrals, it’s utterly absorbing.
  • 22′
    Mohamed Yattara, is down in some distress, and he’s slow to get to his feet. Guinea don’t stop though, and Berthe has to push away a speculative drive from Naby Keita that suddenly swerved on target!
  • 20′
    Mali are staring at this scoreline in disbelief. They were initially denied a genuine penalty appeal, before seeing Constant score against them moments later from 12 yards out in outrageous fashion. They had a huge chance of their own to drag things level from the spot, but Keita tossed that into the bin.
  • 18′
    Missed Penalty Seydou Keita
  • 18′
    Penalty save Naby-Moussa Yattara
    Jeez, that was terrible. Keita goes in with all the intensity of a pensioner, side-footing an embarrassing spot-kick right into the dive of Naby Yattara.
  • 17′
    THE PARTY DOESN’T STOP! PENALTY TO MALI! On the very next play, les Aigles get a chance to tie it up from the spot. Issiaga Sylla gets called for a handball, and up steps Seydou Keita to restore parity…
  • 15′
    Penalty Goal Kevin Constant
    COOL AS A CONSTANT! The former Milan and Genoa man lets the pressure slide off his shoulders and dinks a cheeky penalty into the back of the net!
  • 13′
    PENALTY AT THE OTHER END! Wague’s handball in the box is spotted, but signaled very late by the referee! The Guinea fans and players are in a state of shock given the decisions that went against them recently, but the referee made the right call here.
  • 11′
    WAS THAT A PENALTY? Mali continue to storm forward with real purpose. A hoisted ball from the halfway line finds Yatabare racing between the two centre-backs. Sankoh swings at air in his attempt to clear the ball, and Camara puts the Aigles striker off his finish with a sneaky push in the back! Once again, the referee denies Mali a decision in their favour!
  • 9′
    THAT WAS A SORE ONE! Tamboura clatters into Traore, and the Guinea captain is down on the deck writhing in pain. He came in late there and made no attempt to play the ball. The referee errs on the side of leniency though, and keeps the yellow card in his pocket. A little too generous in my book.
  • 7′
    Guinea are under some real pressure in the opening exchanges, thanks mainly to Mali’s ability to flight balls into dangerous areas from the flanks. The Syli Nationale players look absolutely nervous when the ball is in the air.
  • 5′
    Oof. That was a close escape for Guinea! A free-kick into the area is dealt with in an amateurish fashion. From there, that man Diaby has a crack on goal again, and only a deflection at the far post takes it away from the net!
  • 3′
    Mali come forward via Seydou Keita, and the ball is fed to Diaby down the left-hand side. The winger drives at the defence and nearly tests Naby Yattara in the Guinea goal, but it flies narrowly over the top.
  • 1′
    We’re off! Decision day in Group D!
  • Kasperczak drops Wolverhampton midfielder Bakary Sako to the bench, despite his goal against Cote d’Ivoire last time out. In comes Abdoulay Diaby to replace him. Keeper Soumbeila Diakite and Sambou Yatabare have also been left out of the starting XI, with Germain Berthe spelling the former between the posts, and Modibo Maiga coming in for the latter.
  • Michel Dussuyer makes two changes from the Cameroon game, bringing in Abdoulaye Cisse in defence for Florentin Pogba, while Seydouba Souma is benched for Naby Keita.
  • Mali (4-1-4-1): Berthe; Diakite, Wague, Coulibaly, Tamboura; Y. Sylla; Diaby, N’Diaye, S. Keita, Maiga; Yatabare.
  • Guinea (4-1-4-1): N. Yattara; Cisse, Sankoh, Camara, Sylla; Fofana; Traore, Keita, Constant, Conte; M. Yattara.
  • Mali are the lowest Fifa-ranked side in the group, but Henryk Kasperczak’s men could have well booked qualification long before today. In both of their previous group games, they were denied maximum points by equalisers in the final six minutes of regulation time.
  • So to make a long story short, win your final group game and all your problems are solved!
  • However, given what has happened so far, there’s more than a fool’s chance that both matches could finish in identical draws. Should that happen, then lots would need to be drawn to determine who advances. If one game is won and the other drawn, the winner will top the group, while detemining second place will also require lots to be drawn between the two sides involved in the tied match.
  • If there is a winner in both Cameroon-Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea-Mali, then those two teams will qualify. Also, if both matches finish in draws, then the two sides involved in the higher-scoring draw will progress to the quarter-finals of the AFCON.
  • An unprecedented series of 1-1 ties in all four group games so far has left Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea and Mali all deadlocked on points, goals scored and goals against heading into this evening’s final matchday. With the first two teams also kicking off simultaneously, what does that mean for Group D’s representatives in the last eight?