Ivory Coast's 9-man team stuns Mali to reach AFCON semi-finals

Ivory Coast celebrate

Ivory Coast's national football team pulled off an incredible extra-time comeback win against Mali, despite being two men down, to secure a 2-1 victory and a spot in the semi-finals of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations. 

The match took place in Bouake, Ivory Coast, on February 3, 2024. The win was secured by a back-heel goal from Oumar Diakite in added time at the end of extra time. 

The victory was all the more remarkable given that Ivory Coast was playing without two of its players, who had been sent off earlier in the game. 
According to AFP report, the Ivorians initially reduced to 10 men by a red card at the end of the first half – before Diakite’s second yellow for celebrating his winner – fell behind in the second half to a Nene Dorgeles goal only for Simon Adingra to equalise in the 90th minute.

The result, AFP further reports, marked another upward turn for the Ivory Coast in a roller coaster AFCON campaign in which they scraped into the knockout stage after a 4-0 hiding from Equatorial Guinea.
Heartbroken Malian coach being consoled by another official 

“It was a heartbreaking outcome for Mali, who dominated for long periods and, despite missing a penalty, seemed set to maintain a record of never losing a Cup of Nations quarter-final.

“Ivory Coast now return to Abidjan, where they will face the Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday, February 7, 2024, in the semi-finals, but Diakite is set to miss out after picking up a second yellow card while celebrating his winning goal.

“This was the sixth meeting of the countries in the AFCON with the two-time champions, Ivory Coast, winning four and drawing one previously against rivals, whose best showing was 1972 runners-up.

“Ivory Coast caretaker coach Emerse Fae made three changes to the lineup that started in the dramatic last-16 penalty shootout triumph over defending champions, Senegal.

“In came midfielder Franck Kessie, scorer of the winning penalty, winger Nicolas Pepe and forwards Christian Kouame in place of Ibrahim Sangare, Oumar Diakite and Jean-Philippe Krasso.

“Mali had one enforced change to the team that defeated Burkina Faso to set up the West African showdown with Diadie Samassekou replacing ill Mohamed Camara in midfield.”
The win was celebrated by fans and pundits alike, who praised the team's resilience and determination.
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