Mali collects more Africa Cup bronze

Updated 11 February 2013
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Mali collects more Africa Cup bronze

PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa: Mali finished third a second consecutive time at the Africa Cup of Nations by defeating Ghana 3-1 Saturday night at rain-drenched Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Mahamadou Samassa and Seydou Keita gave Mali a two-goal advantage by early in the second half, Kwadwo Asamoah scored a soft late goal to set up a tense finish but substitute Sigamary Diarra put the result beyond doubt in stoppage time.
It was the second successive tournament in which the Black Stars of Ghana defeated the Eagles of Mali in the mini-league first phase of the tournament only to lose out when they met a second time with the bronze medals at stake.
Victory in a possible Africa Cup farewell for 33-year-old Keita brought a happy end to the week for Mali after a 4-1 semi-final drubbing from Nigeria.
And the deserved victory by a team much hungrier for the consolation prize will lift spirits at home with the country involved in a struggle against Islamist extremists for control of the northern region.
Former champions Ghana spent much of the match on the back foot as they tried in vain to shake off the disappointment of losing on penalties to surprise side Burkina Faso in the other semi-final.
“I’m proud of the achievement of my players. They worked hard to get the bronze medals. I think the people back home will be very happy with our performance,” said France-born Mali coach Patrice Carteron.
Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah said: “I believe the players performed very well. We had our chances and did not take them. These players can do well if given further opportunities because they have gained much experience.” Samassa opened the scoring on 21 minutes before another disappointing crowd in this Indian Ocean city, diving to head a cross wide of Fatawu Dauda after a superb pass from midfield set Adama Tamboura free down the left flank.
Former Barcelona midfielder Keita claimed the second goal three minutes into the second half when he latched on to a low Ousmane Coulibaly cross and fired home from close range for his third goal of the competition.
Mubarak Wakaso, joint leading scorer on four goals with Nigerian Emmanuel Emenike, wasted a great chance to edge ahead in the chase for the Golden Boot trophy when he blazed a harshly awarded penalty over.
But Ghana, who have lost three of four third-place play-offs, did pull a goal back eight minutes from time when a speculative Asamoah shot from outside the box surprisingly found its way past Soumaila Diakite.
Diarra completed the scoring three minutes into stoppage time when a long pass from midfield evaded several defenders and he took advantage with a snap shot past Dauda.


Saudi Arabia out to make Kingdom 'proud' and repay faith of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Updated 23 May 2018
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Saudi Arabia out to make Kingdom 'proud' and repay faith of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

  • Juan Antonio Pizzi’s side are in Zurich on a three-week training camp
  • SAFF have left no stone turned in preparing the team for their first appearance at the finals since 2006

RIYADH: The president of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) acknowledges there will be added scrutiny on the Green Falcons when they kick off this summer’s World Cup against hosts Russia in the opening game, but is confident the players can overcome any first-night nerves and rise to the challenge.
Juan Antonio Pizzi’s side are in Zurich on a three-week training camp as they start to fine-tune preparations ahead of the first game on June 14. The Argentine coach has taken 28 players with him, but must whittle the squad down to 23 by June 4.
SAFF have left no stone turned in preparing the team for their first appearance at the finals since 2006, sanctioning five training camps and arranging nine friendlies, several against high-profile opposition. Their final three games are against sides with top 20 FIFA’s rankings, a deliberate strategy to ensure they are not undercooked heading into Group A games against Russia, Uruguay and Egypt.
“We are at a critical stage of our preparations, one that needs concentration and discipline, especially as we face three strong teams in Italy, Peru and Germany,” said president Adel Ezzat in a video on the federation’s Twitter account. “Our objective is to be on form by June 14 when the eyes of the world will be on us in the opening match. We have a bright history in the World Cup and Asian Cup, so it’s our duty to live up to that reputation. I would like to address all Saudi fans, whether they will be watching the games on TV or from the stadiums in Russia: They should pray for the players. The players are our brothers and sons, and we should all love our Saudi national team. I urge the fans and the media to be united around the national team.”
Ezzat said the players have been energised and inspired by a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman before they left for Switzerland. The crown prince demonstrated his commitment to the game in the Kingdom by this week vowing to cover all external debts totalling SR1.277 billion (around $340 million) owed by Saudi Pro League clubs.
“We are optimistic after the historic meeting between the players, staff and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” said Ezzat. “The meeting set the tone for the final stage of preparations, and the players are up for the challenge of meeting His Highness’ expectations.
“We are grateful for Prince Mohammed for his constant support and generosity toward Saudi football, be it the national team, clubs or the league. It’s our duty to repay the faith of our leaders. This is something that drives us forward and I’m fully confident in the players’ ability to do us proud in Russia.”