Mali are through to the final of the African Nations Championship after defeating Guinea in a close semi final game played at the Japoma Sports Complex yesterday evening.
The Eagles sailed through 5-4 on penalties after both sides played a goalless stalemate after extra time.
In a tightly contested West African derby, both sides could not be separated after regular play time and even extra time did not yield the much-awaited goal.
Mali who had played a similar goalless draw in their quarter final match against Congo last Saturday in Yaounde, fancied their chances when the game went to penalty shootouts.
And they did take their chance after all four players from both sides had converted their penalties befor Guinea playmaker Morlaye Sylla missed the decisive fifth to set the stage for Malian striker Coulibaly to step up and send his side through to Sunday’s final.
Like the quarter final, Mali had to do it the hard way after in a very physical game which saw very limited opportunities.
Guinea thought they had taken the lead on 27 minutes when Yakhouba Barry slotted the ball home but the VAR lines were immediately drawn out as the striker was ruled offside.
The second half panned out as the first with Guinea seeing more of the ball but the end product was still lacking.
Playmaker Morlaye Sylla almost stunned Mali with a brilliant free-kick but his effort was tipped over the bar goalkeeper Djigui Diarra.
Mali did have chances of their own and almost stole the game at the death when striker Mamadou Coulibaly was played through in the box but his first touch just let him down.
Deep in extra time, Guinea almost won it with their own big striker Coulibaly who brought a long ball within his strides but his shot could only find the side-netting.
That was the best and last chance of the game as the game was finally decided on the spot with Mali progressing to the final.