Mali defeated the Flying Eagles of Nigeria 4-3 on penalties following a 1-1 draw after extra time in their semi-final match of the 2019 U-20 Africa Cup of Nations at the Stade General Seyni Kountche on Wednesday, reports Completesports.com.
El Bilal Toure scored the decisive spot-kick after Aniekeme Okon missed his kick for Nigeria.
It’s the first time Mali have reached the final of the competition.
The win for Jounior Mena of Mali avenged their loss to the Flying Eagles also on penalties at the U-20 WAFU Cup tournament in Lome, Togo last December,
Mamadou Traore scored the opener for Mali in the 78th minute of the encounter. The goal was Traore’s second of the tournament.
Substitute Paschal Durugbor drew Nigeria level with five minutes left to play.
Paul Aigbogun’s side started the encounter with more purpose forcing the Malians into defending in the opening stages of the game.
Nasifi Yahaya crashed the crossbar in the sixth minute after latching on to a neat pass from the edge of the box.
Koita Youssouf also made a brilliant save to deny Ibrahim Abubakar eight minutes later.
Mali had a glorious chance to break the deadlock three minutes into the second half but Olawale Oremade came off his line hurriedly to deny Sekou Koita.
With no goal scored after an hour, Aigbogun brought on Paschal Durugbor for Yahaya and Maxwell Effiom for Ibrahim Abubakar but the pair could only do little.
Ibrahim Alhassan tried his luck from distance in the 70th minute but his shot went inches wide.
During the shootout, Ikuowen Udoh, Mohammed Jamil, Effiong Maxwell all converted their kicks for the Flying Eagles, while Valentine Ozornwafor and Aniekeme Okon missed theirs.
For Mali, Lassana N’Diaye, Hassan Traore, Abdoulaye Diaby and El Bilal Toure all scored, while Boubacar Traore missed.
The seven time winners of the U20 AFCON, the Flying Eagles will face the loser of the second clash between South Africa and Senegal in the Third Place match on Sunday in Niamey.
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