Angola in dramatic 4-4 opening with Mali


Host Angola gave away what would have been a thumping 4-0 victory and in the end picked only a point against Mali in the dramatic opening game of the African Cup of Nations.

Flavio got the host to a flying start with two flying headers in the first half and the stadium went bonkers-just what the fans needed to forget, even if it is temporary, the sad shooting incident that left three Togolese dead, two days before.

From recess Angola continued from where they left off with Gilberto and Manucho expertly converting two penalty kicks awarded or rather gifted by the Malians to the host.

With 15 minutes to the blast of the final whistle the Malians found their scoring boots and rattled in four quick goals; Keita getting a brace with Kanoute and Yattabare getting the others.

The Angolans started the game the more determined side with Flavio and Manucho combining well in attack but failed to get the opener.

The Malian’s however looked emasculated, snapping their heels all the way through, hanging on at least.

And when Djalma came in for injured Dede of Angola the story changed. Djalma proved a slippery customer and made countless inroads on the right flank with piercing crosses which left the Malian defence awkward.

The totally unmarked Flavio who had been silent for most part headed home a stupendous free-kick in the 37th minute.

The Al Shabab striker again soared high up to connect a cross on the right in the 41st minute for Angolan’s second and a smile for recess.

Back from recess Bakayoko’s late and lazy challenge on Gilberto in the 18 yard box in the 66th minute typified the casual attitude of the Malians towards the game.

The referee rightly whistled for a penalty and Gilberto twice converted after his first was ruled out.

It got embarrassing for the Malian’s after Gilberto teasingly outwitted Seidu Keita on the left and made his way into the box only to be pulled back by the Bacelona star. The referee again pointed to the box and flashed the yellow card in the face of Keita for his troubles.

Manucho stepped up and made it four for the hosts.

The stadium was electric. It looked more like a done deal, a thumping by the host. In the mist of the excitement, complacency crept in and Coach Manuel José de Jesus pulled out two of his brightest spots- Flavio and Gilberto.

But the Malians had other ideas and needed a push from goal keeper Carlos Fernandes in post for the host.

Carlos spilled a corner kick in the 76th minute and in a goal mouth melee, Keita grabbed what looked like a consolation.

Two minutes later Frederic Kanoute proved why he is such a deadly striker when he converted an immaculate cross on the left with his head, which left Carlos completely beaten.

The Angolans didn’t know what had hit them and were gasping for survival, hoping the whistle will go for the end, but the Malians kept the pressure on.

With some atrocious defending into injury time, Keita got onto the scoring sheet after a half-volley on his favourite left foot.

Yattabare got on level pegging with the hosts after yet another close range attempt in the final minute of injury time.

The host was left devastated knowing too well they should have picked the points at stake.

Story by Nathan Gadugah/Myjoyonline