VAR verdicts a 1-1 draw between Mali and Gambia as both sides have harvested four points in two group games in the ongoing 33rd edition of the TotalEnergies Africa cup of nations in Cameroon.
The VAR awarded the first penalty to Mali which was converted by Ibrahima Kone at the 79th minute, and awarded Gambia’s penalty at the 90th minute, which was converted by Bologna’s Musa Barrow.
Coach Tom Saintfiet made two changes to his side, that won against Mauritania on Wednesday. Yusupha Bobb comes in for Pa Modou, and Noah Sanko for Ebrima Colley.
While, coach Magassouba made just one change to his side that won against Tunisia on Wednesday, as Lassana Coulibaly was brought in place of Amadou Haidara.
The Malians began the game as a superior side in the first minutes of the game. Moussa Djenepo had a great chance after benefiting from an Adama Traore cross ,but his shot was blocked by a Gambia defender at the third minute.
Mali continued to dominate possession, as they knock at the doors of the Scorpions, but the defense of Omar Colley and Co proved solid.
Yves Bisouma had a chance from a 30 metres free-kick, but his shot couldn’t hit the target at the 11th minute.
At the 17th minute, there was a scramble for the ball inside the Gambian territory, which saw the ball landing on the feet of Massadio Haidara, but his shot could only hit the side netting.
The Eagles again, had another chance to score from a header from Moussa Djenepo, but his header could not hit the target.
The first 20 minutes of the game favoured the Eagles in terms of possession, but the Gambians looked more dangerous afterwards, with Musa Barrow, Ablie Jallow and Assan Ceesay looked more of a threat to Mali.
The Gambians had a free-kick at the 21st minute, but Musa Barrow was unlucky as his shot hits the crossbar.
The boys of coach Magassouba had chances from close range, but their chances yield no fruits.
Minutes later, the Gambians had another glearing chance to take the lead. Goalscorer of their last game against Mauritania, Ablie Jallow also saw his beautiful free-kick hit the woodwork. This is the second time Gambia is hitting the woodwork in the game.
The 1972 finalists however, had chances at the latter stages of the first half especially from Yves Bissouma and Boubacar Kiki, but their chances yield no fruits.
Coach Magassouba brought in Amadou Haidara who played 80 minutes in their last game in place of Lassana Coulibaly.
The second half was not different from the first, as the Malians continue their superiority complex, with Moussa Djenepo, Yves Bissouma and Adama Traore being the main threat to the Gambians.
Few minutes later, Yves Bissouma had a chance, but could not hit the target.
Defensive blunder from the Scorpions which almost put them in trouble, as Mali’s Adama Traore saw his shot saved by the Gambian goalkeeper, Jobe Modou.
Then comes the Malians again with a beautiful shot from RB Leipzig midfieder, Amadou Haidara which was saved by the Gambian goalkeeper at the 57th minute.
Gambia’s star man Assan Ceesay who has scored 11 goals for Swiss top flight side, FC Zurich is still not convincing as he was substituted midway into the second half.
The Gambian defense is still determine to keep their clean sheet as the Eagles continue to mount pressure. This caused a foul in the Gambian territory that led to a late VAR check which resulted to a penalty for Mali.
Then their goalscorer of the last game, Ibrahima Kone if Sarspborg in Norway stepped up, as he sends goalkeeper Jobe Modou the wrong way to give Mali the lead at the 79th minute.
The Malians again hunting for the second goal, but Standard Liege Moussa defender, Sissako saw his shot saved.
Another VAR check after the ball was handled by a Malian defender. The Moroccan referee moves to the monitor as his verdict was a penalty.
Bologna midfielder, Musa Barrow stepped up and sends the goalkeeper to the wrong side to level scores at 1-1 at the 90th minute.
All attempts by Mali to get the winner, but no avail as it ended 1-1.