Orange Africa Cup of Nations – Saturday 11 February 2012
3rd/4th Place Play-off
Ghana (0) 0 – 2 (1) Mali [Cheick Diabate, 23 mins, 80 mins]
Nuevo Estadio de Malabo.
Both Mali and Ghana had experience of the 3rd/4th Place Play-Off fixture from previous Africa Cup of Nations tournaments. Prior to today, Mali had played in this fixture on three occasions and The Eagles were yet to register a win. In 1994 in Tunisia, Mali lost 3-1 to Ivory Coast, in 2002 when they hosted the tournament they lost 1-0 to Nigeria and two years later lost again to the Nigerians, this time 2-1 in Tunisia. Ghana have played in the play-off fixture on two previous occasions, losing to Zambia in 1996 in South Africa, but did take 3rd spot in 2008, when as hosts they overcame Ivory Coast 4-2.
Ghana and Mali had already played each in the 2012 tournement having met in the second round of group games. On that occasion two second-half goals had seen The Black Stars emerge as 2-0 winners. Ahead of the fixture today, both sides had been hit by injuries and suspensions which affected team selection and meant that each team had six starters from that group game selected for this play-off fixture. In a tournament which has had its fair share of shocks, the 3rd/4th Place Play-off saw the underdog again have the last bark. Mali emerged 2-0 winners with goals either side of the break from Cheick Diabate. The first after 23 minutes was a tap-in from inside the six yard box after Ghana keeper Kwarasey could only palm away a shot from Samba Diakite. The Black Stars cause wasn’t helped when Isaac Vorsah was sent off mid-way through the second-half. With ten minutes remaining, Mali sealed the win as in a break-away Adama Tamboura crossed to Cheick Diabate for his second poachers finish from close range. Mali deserved winners 2-0, whilst a disappointing finish for Ghana, who looked a shadow of the team that had shone in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.