Third/Fourth Place Play-Off
Mali (1) 3 – 1 (0) Ghana
Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
It might have been a wet old night in Port Elizabeth and in front of a crowd of just 6,000, but those who braved the weather were treated to an entertaining game. Neither side made wholesale changes to their line-ups, as both teams looked to clinch Third Place in the 2012 AFCON competition.
Ghana were soon into their stride as fullback Richard Kissi Boateng threatened down the wing and Asamoah Gyan had an early attempt on goal which cleared the Mali bar. However, the Malians responded soon after and Samassa’s effort on goal was easily gathered by Dauda the Ghanaian keeper. On twenty one minutes Mamadou Samassa did find a way past Dauda as he dived to head home a cross from marauding fullback Adama Tamboura. The first-half action was end-to-end as Asamoah and Wakaso both had chances to bring Ghana level; with Mali then almost taking a 2-0 advantage, when Samassa saw his effort hit the post just before half-time.
Into the second-half, Mali took control of the game within three minutes of the restart. Mamadou Samassa muscled his way down the right wing and was able to get a cross into the penalty box, where Seydou Keita comfortably side footed home. On fifty eight minutes Ghana got an opportunity to get back in the game when they were awarded a penalty for handball. Wakaso who had already scored three penalties in the 2013 tournament then proceeded to horribly blast this attempt over the bar. It wasn’t until the eighty second minute that Ghana got a goal back, when Mali keeper Diakite badly misjudged a long distance swerving effort from Asamoah. As Ghana went in search of an equaliser, they were caught on the break in time added-on when Sigamary Diarra expertly volleyed home a long through ball.
So Mali 3-1 winners at the end, a result they deserved to clinch Third Place for the second consecutive AFCON tournament. The last CAF Rankings prior to the competition had Mali at three and Ghana at four, which was how they finished here. Pre-tournament, the bookies had Ghana as second favourites at 6/1 to take the title, with Mali out at 14/1. Both countries can be fairly satisfied with what they achieved, however some may question whether Ghana like Ivory Coast have once again not dealt with the pressure of being amongst the favourites.