Substitute Yves Bissouma scored the winner two minutes from time to send Mali into the final at the expense of Cote d’Ivoire in their semi-final match on Thursday in Kigali.
Bissouma struck on the 88th minute as ‘Les Aiglons’ reached the final of the tournament designed exclusively for footballers playing in their domestic leagues for the first time.
It was a deserving win for Mali who even missed a penalty in the first half and was by far the better side in the second half.
It was the Ivorians who took the game to the Malians in the opening minutes. ‘Les Elephants’ almost broke the deadlock on nine minutes when Essis Aka’s shot bounced off the post with Mali goalie Djigui Diarra completely beaten.
The pendulum then swung the direction of the Malians and Sekou Koita forced a superb save from Ivorian goalie Badra Ali Sangare on the 27th minute.
Four minutes later, ‘Les Aiglons’ were rewarded a penalty after Cheikh Ibrahim Comara handled in the vital area. However, Sangare denied Mamadou Coulibaly with a good save from the spot.
The second half belonged to Mali and they dominated possession, but found the Ivorian backline a nut too hard to crack.
Substitute Nguessan Kouame and Koita troubled the Ivorian defence often with the former missing a golden chance to put his side up on 58 minutes.
The introduction of Bissouma gave the Malians more option in attack and two minutes from time a cross from Sekou Diarra found Hamidou Sinayoko, who headed to Bissouma to slot home past Ali Badra.
CAF (@CAF_Online) February 4, 2016
Mali will face DR Congo in Sunday’s final whilst Cote d’Ivoire squares Guinea in the battle for bronze.