Mali picked up a vital 1-1 draw against Cameroon on Saturday at the Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium in the first leg last round matches for the U20 Afcon Niger 2019 qualifiers.
Toure El Bilal’s grabbed the vital away goal for Cameroon at the 62′, level scores after Cameroon had taken the lead two minutes earlier from a Fofana Babou-own goal.
Mali would count themselves unlucky not to have left Yaounde with a win after controlling the game for larger periods.
Goal scorer Toure El Bilal, almost put Mali infont at the third minute when he ghosted behind the Cameroon backline but his shot from an acute angle was weak to trouble Assimba Christophe between the posts for Cameroon.
Ten minutes later, Mammady Diarra was at the end of a beautiful cross from but his shot at the back post was diverted to the post by Assimba Christophe for a Malian corner.
Cameroon got a sniff at goal almost at the half hour when Loaloa Patrick was put through on goal but Koita Youssouf made himself big in the Malian goal to collect the ball and deny any attempt at a shot on goal.
Cameroon were delighted to have gone into the dressing room with the scores level and took the game to the Malians in the second half with strike Nkeng Taddeus occupying the centre halveswhich gave the opportunity for the midfielders to make runs in the box but Cameroon could not find the back of the net.
The junior Lions did however did get the breakthrough from a corner whipped in from the right only for Fofana Babou to miss his clearance and put the ball into the back of his own net.
The joy at the Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium was immediately cut short when Mali launched a quick counter after winning the ball in their own half to free Traore on the right whose shot was deflected by Assimba Christophe but Toure El Bilal was on hand to tap in for the equaliser.
Mali now hold the vital away goal going into the return game in Bamako on July 22.
Cameroon : 1-Assimba Christophe(GK), 18-Sob Franck(c), 4-Makani Abel, 13-Boubakary Sali, 12-Abba Ibrahim, 8-Oukine Felix, 14-Kamdem Arnold, 10-Sakava Moise, 3-Loa Loa, 11-Nkeng Taddeus, 17-Abate Etoundi,
16-Iyemgue Nathan, 2-Mamoudou Hassan, 5-Houzaifi Youssoufa, 6-Essouma Franck, 7-Ndi Rene, 9-Bonny Elame, 15-Assana Innocent.
16-Koita Youssouf (GK), 13-Kanoute Clement (c), 4-Konate Fode, 2-Dante Fode, 17-Samake Mamadou, 10-Traore Mamadou, 6-Sissoko Sambou, 7-Drame Madji, 8-Diarra Mamady, 5-Fofana Babou, 9-Toure El Bilal
1-Koulibali Alkalifa (Gk), 3-Djim Abdoulaye, 18-Traore Boubacar, 15-Karamre Charly, 11-Gary Moussa, 12-Kanou Abdoulaye, 14-Samadiare Diadie.