Mali booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time since 2013, edging past Burkina Faso 2-1 in a hard-fought encounter on Tuesday.
The Eagles got off to a flying start under the scorching Ivorian sun thanks to an early own goal from Burkina Faso defender Edmond Tapsoba. Lassine Sinayoko, Mali’s top scorer in the tournament, doubled their lead just after half-time before Bertrand Traore pulled one back for the Stallions from the penalty spot.
Early Goals Set the Tone
The match, played in the stifling heat of Korhogo, saw Mali take an early lead with a bizarre own goal. Just over two minutes in, Amadou Haidara’s powerful header rebounded off the post, struck Tapsoba, and deflected into the net, leaving Burkina Faso goalkeeper Herve Koffi helpless.
Mali doubled their advantage two minutes into the second half as Sinayoko, who has now netted three times in the tournament, capitalized on a defensive lapse from Tapsoba and slotted the ball past Koffi.
Burkina Faso Fight Back, But Fall Short
Burkina Faso refused to go down without a fight and pulled a goal back through Traore’s penalty just before the hour mark. The Stallions thought they had equalized in the dying moments when Issoufou Dayo headed home, but the goal was chalked off for offside.
Relief and Excitement for Mali
The victory marked a welcome change of fortune for Mali, who had endured two first-round and two last-16 exits since their third-place finish in South Africa 11 years ago.
“It was a really tough match against a good side,” said Sinayoko after the game. “We had to work extra hard, but I am glad we eventually got the result. We can celebrate this victory while keeping at the back of our minds that there is still a lot of work ahead.”