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AFCON 2013: Mali v Nigeria (Highlights)
Highlights of the Semi-final match between NIgeria and Mali at the 2013 African Cup of Nations (AFCON)
By Ayodele Odumade
After being criticised at home and abroad, Stephen Okechukwu Keshi stands on the brink of winning the African Cup of Nations as both a player and coach as the Super Eagles thrashed a Mali side who were out of their depth by 4 goals to one.
In the second minute, Victor Moses hit a shot but it was too weak and went over. In the 6th minute, Adama Tamboura went on a run down the left and crossed the ball, but Godfrey Oboabona cut it out. From the resultant corner, Molla Wagué headed over.
In the 11th minute, the first chance fell to Mali from a corner kick taken by Kalilou Traoré to his namesake Mohammed Traore but he headed it just wide of the post. Had it been on target, it would have gone in, as Nigeria had no one on the back post. A minute later Mohamed Sissoko hit a shot from distance but it was just over the bar.
In the 14th minute, the ball fell to Ideye Brown but Mamadou Samassa blocked his shot and Moses could not quite connect with it from the rebound properly as his shot was blocked for a corner. In the 21st minute, Brown played a lovely one-two with Emmanuel Emenike but Aly Yirango blocked his shot.
In the 22nd minute, Nigeria had a throwing and the ball fell to John Mikel Obi, whose thunderous shot was just wide of Samassa’s post.
In the 25th minute, Victor Moses broke down the right and twisted and turned Tamboura inside out. He put a delightful cross into the box, which was met with a diving header by the unmarked Elderson Echiejile from 4 yards out and flew into the net to give Nigeria the lead.
In the 29th minute, Ideye doubled Nigeria’s lead. Moses sent Emenike on his way down the right and his cross was met by Brown who hit the ball into the net. Two mintues later, Ideye almost made it three as he robbed the Malian defence and hit a shot, which was saved by Samassa.
In the 32nd minute, Nigeria broke from a Mali corner and Ogenyi Onazi tried to chip the onrushing Samassa but he adjusted himself and gathered the ball.
Just before half time, Emenike put Nigeria in a commanding position as his free kick was deflected by the wall that broke early, wrong footing Samassa who could only watch the ball trickle in. Nigeria went in 3-0 at half time.
Two minutes after the break, the ball fell to Seydou Keita in the Nigerian box but he scoffed his shot. In the 52nd minute, Stephen Keshi replaced Victor Moses with Ahmed Musa. There was no sign of any injury to Moses and probably just a precaution. A minute later Wagué headed over for Mali.
Right on the hour mark, Nigeria effectively killed off the game for good. Mikel Obi played a delightful pass to Ahmed Musa, who broke down the right and calmly slotted the ball past Samassa to make it 4-0 to Nigeria.
If the Malians had any hope of getting back into the game, it was effectively ended at that moment. Musa thought he had scored the fifth goal for Nigeria but it was ruled out for offside.
In the 68th minute, second half substitute Cheick Diabate saw his shot saved.
In the 74th minute, Mali got a consolation goal as Cheick Fantamady side footed the ball home from inside the 18-yard box.
Nigeria was still not satisfied with their lead as they went looking for another goal. Emenike hit a ferocious free kick from 30 yards, which flashed past the post. Due to the force he put into the shot, he appeared to have strained his thigh.
Spirited Mali kept pressing and nearly got another goal with 2 minutes of the match left as Diabate had another shot saved by Enyeama. In stoppage time, Fantamady saw his shot go just over. A minute later, he had another shot deflected for a corner. On another day, he could have had a hat trick. As the referee blew his whistle, the Nigerian team celebrated and is now on the brink of winning their first title in 29 years. Keshi has answered his critics in the best way possible and will hope that his team can provide him with one more performance like the last two games. Suddenly, Nigeria on the brink of history.