The Eagles of Mali have played a one all draw with the intermediate lions of Cameroon, in the first round two game in Group A of the African Nations championship.
Both sides came into the game knowing fully well that a win for either side could have secured them a place for the quarters.
Banga Bindjeme’s sixth minute opener was quickly cancelled out by Issaka Samake’s 12 minute free kick, as both sides shared the spoils.
It took the intermediate lions of Cameroon just six minutes to raise the curtains, when Captain Banga Bindjeme rised above his maker, to bundle in Kevin Junior Mfede’s cross pass Goalkeeper Djigui Diarra.
The lions looked panicky in defense, with Ndedi Junior who was handed a surprise start ahead of Etame, caught wanting on several occasions. His foul on Mali’s Moussa Kone at the 12 minute of the game, gifted the Eagles a free kick, which dead ball specialist, Issaka Samake whipped it pass Goalkeeper Haschou Kerrido.
Haschou Kerrido was time and again the savior of Cameroon, as he denied the Malians from going ahead. Captain Banga Bindjeme was also rock solid, as his blocks stop all the offensives from Moussa Kone and Co.
Coach Martin Ndtoungou Mpile decide to sub off the near calamitious Ndedi Junior and introduce Etame François, just 25 minutes into the game.
As the eagles pushed hard for a second goal, Banga, Etame, Hassana, Andoulou and Haschou stayed solid at the back, as both sides returned to the dressing room tight at one all.
Fully aware of the stakes of the game, and the need to get more goals, Ndtoungou Mpile brought in more fresh legs in Bertrand Mani and later on Fabrice Onana, as the underperforming Ako Assomo and Mfede Junior made way.
The lions pressed harder in the second segment, hitting the cross bar at the 63rd minute, and Meyong’s side netting at the 68th minute.
Mali throw in Makan Samabali and Mamadou Coulibaly, in the place of Ibourahim Sidibe and Moussa Kone, as the eagles resorted to counter offensives.
An action parked second half failed to produce any goal, as both Haschou Kerrido and Djigui Diarra stamped their authority in their goal area.
Mali and Cameroon have therefore squandered the opportunity to grab the first quarter final ticket, as both sides stay top of group A with four points each.
The last round of games will be decisive for both sides, as Mali takes on Zimbabwe at the Japoma Stadium in Douala on Sunday, while Cameroon host Burkina Faso at the Yaoundé Omnisport Stadium, simultaneously.