Africa-Press – Cape verde. Mali have made a winning start to their Africa Cup of Nations campaign by beating Tunisia 1-0 on Wednesday. Ibrahima Kone scored the first goal early in the second half from the penalty spot.
Mondher Kebaier’s side got a great opportunity to get back in the game after a penalty was awarded to them in the 75th minute. However, goalkeeper Ibrahima Mounkoro made a fine save to maintain the Eagles’ lead.
The Group F match ended in controversial circumstances as the referee twice blew for full time prematurely. Janny Sikazwe tried to end the game in the 85th minute but soon realised his mistake and decided to continue play.
The Zambian then issued a red card to Mali’s El Bilal Toure which seemed a harsh decision for the 20-year-old’s strong tackle. The referee stuck to his original decision even after the VAR appeared to inform him about the error.
Sikazwe then ended the game 20 seconds before the 90 minutes were up. Mali have qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations on 12 occasions but they are yet to win a title. They came closest to lifting the trophy in 1972 when they lost the final to Congo.
Meanwhile, Tunisia have the distinction of winning the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations, defeating rivals Morocco in the final. They have also made it to the final of the prestigious competition on two occasions in 1965 and 1996.