Mali plans to upset South Africa

Updated 03 February 2013
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Mali plans to upset South Africa

JOHANNESBURG: Mali plan to play party-poopers in the quarterfinals for the second consecutive Africa Cup of Nations when they confront hosts South Africa Saturday before a sell-out 60,000 Durban crowd.
A year ago almost to the day, giant striker Cheick Tidiane Diabate leveled with six minutes left to force co-hosts Gabon into extra time and a penalty shootout, won by the Malian Eagles.
South Africa, like Gabon, are favorites, despite the best efforts of coach Gordon Igesund to convince the media otherwise ahead of the only last-eight fixture that is not an all-west Africa affair.
Mali defeated South Africa 2-0 at the last-eight stage when they hosted the African football showcase 11 years ago and have won all four quarterfinals, three in regular time and one via a shootout.
That South African loss in the heart of west Africa marked the end of a great run by Bafana Bafana (The Boys) that brought gold at home in 1996, silver in Burkina Faso two years later and bronze in Ghana at the 2000 tournament.
South Africa have not passed the first round at the Cup of Nations since while Mali continue to punch above their weight, finishing third last year behind shock winners Zambia and runners-up Ivory Coast.
Home advantage, passionate support and several superb goals from unlikely sources have raised hopes that South Africa can match the team of 1996 and lift the trophy, although central defensive weaknesses are a concern.
But a Mali team desperate to bring a joyful diversion to a country battling Islamist militants are unlikely to be a pushover, especially with the cultured left boot of former Barcelona ‘super sub’ Seydou Keita in midfield.
Igesund, hoping to win the Cup of Nations just six months after inheriting the hot seat from axed Pitso Mosimane, is warier of the Malians than many supporters, who believe a home victory is inevitable.
“Mali are a talented team with very good players. They play differently from the other sides we have met so far. They like to slow things down, they like to knock the ball around.
“The Malians are all big boys. I watched them draw against the Democratic Republic of Congo and all 11 are tall. We have to use the ball well, keep it on the ground, get behind them,” stressed silver-haired Igesund.
Mali coach and former Sunderland full-back Patrice Carteron wants to follow in the footsteps of another young Frenchman Herve Renard, who guided Zambia to glory last year against massive odds.
“Everyone expects South Africa to reach the semifinals. We have nothing to lose and will try to upset the home team. Malians back home have not had much to cheer about apart from the Cup of Nations and we will be playing for them.” Malian forces backed by troops from France and other African countries in the region have been successfully pushing back the Islamist extremists, who were just a few hundred kilometers from capital city Bamako a month ago.
South Africa recovered from a woeful performance when held 0-0 by Cape Verde in the tournament opener to comfortably beat Angola 2-0 and come back twice to draw 2-2 with Morocco in one of the best matches so far at this Africa Cup.

Both Bafana Bafana goals against the Moroccans were outstanding as midfielder May Mahlangu and center-back Siyabonga Sangweni curled shots past Nadir Lamyaghri, one of the best goalkeepers on the continent.
As was the case a year ago, Mali did not impress in the group phase, taking 84 minutes to beat Niger, were lucky to lose only 1-0 to Ghana, and recovered from a sloppy start that cost a goal to draw 1-1 with DR Congo.
The winners stay in the Indian Ocean city to prepare for a Feb. 6 semifinal against title favorites Ivory Coast or Nigeria, who clash in Rustenburg tomorrow.


Manchester United inflict more semifinal misery on sorry Spurs

Updated 21 April 2018
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Manchester United inflict more semifinal misery on sorry Spurs

  • Manchester United come from behind to make FA Cup final.
  • Mauricio Pochettino yet to win a trophy as manager.

A third cup final with Manchester United for Jose Mourinho. More FA Cup semifinal misery for Tottenham.
While Mauricio Pochettino wins admiration for his style of football, the manager has yet to actually win a trophy in management.
A 2-1 collapse to United at Wembley Stadium on Saturday left Tottenham reeling from an eighth successive loss in the FA Cup semifinals.
Pochettino is responsible for two of the setbacks, having also fallen short against Chelsea last season.
At the stadium where Tottenham have been playing their home matches this season, Dele Alli's goal gave the 1991 FA Cup winners hope of turning around their miserable record in world football's oldest knockout competition.
But Alexis Sanchez leveled in the 24th minute and Ander Herrera struck the winner in the second half. It ensured Mourinho, who won the League Cup and Europa League in his first season at United, has a chance to also end this campaign with silverware against Chelsea or Southampton in the FA Cup final.
"We're getting used to being in finals," Herrera said. "This club is all about titles and finals."
While Mourinho has fallen short in the English Premier League behind newly crowned champion Manchester City, United are second and on course for their highest finish since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.
Tottenham would settle with holding onto fourth place to secure a third season in a row in the Champions League.
Liverpool missed a chance to considerably stretch its advantage over Tottenham in one of Saturday's two league games. Juergen Klopp's side threw away a two-goal lead to draw with last-place West Bromwich Albion 2-2 and move only three points ahead of Tottenham.
Chelsea, who plays Southampton in the other FA Cup semifinal on Sunday, are five points behind Tottenham with four games remaining.

POGBA TRANSFORMED
When United fell behind to Tottenham, Paul Pogba was culpable.
A high ball was launched forward by Tottenham, a lethargic Pogba didn't try to break sweat in an attempt to prevent it reaching Eriksen. It allowed the Dane to whip in a cross for Alli to slide onto at the far post and strike past David De Gea in 11th minute
Had Harry Kane made a connection at the far post with Son Heung-min's cross three minutes later, Tottenham might have extended their lead.
Instead, United were able to draw level. Pogba made amends for his earlier inertia by dispossessing Mousa Dembele and delivering a cross that Sanchez headed past static goalkeeper Michel Vorm.
Sanchez did the hard work to create the winner in the 62nd, holding off Kieran Trippier and rolling the ball into the penalty area where Jesse Lingard teed up Herrera to shoot past Vorm.