Mali needed a second-half goal by Ibourahima Sidibe to help record a 1-1 draw against South Africa in the second Group A match of the CAF African Nations Championships at Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.
Bernard Parker put the host nation in the lead from a controversial penalty, while the Malians were denied a spot kick of their own before being closed out by the woodwork.
The opening eight minutes of the encounter didn’t bring much goal-mouth action until Bafana Bafana managed to break on the counter and allow for Siphiwe Tshabalala’s shot to draw a save.
Itumeleng Khune was lucky he didn’t give away a penalty from the resulting goal kick after Abdoulaye Sissoko broke into the box which forced the goalkeeper off his line.
Khune went all in by throwing his body and hands at the ball, bringing down the No 7 in the box all while getting the slightest of touches to it before making contact with Sissoko. There was more contact to the player than ball however.
The home side was luckily let off the hook after a short stoppage when a corner kick found Lassina Diarra, but his effort flashed wide of the near post.
Diakite Soumaila denied Lindokuhle Mbatha of the opening goal of the game after 18 minutes with his surging run in the box. The Platinum Stars player fired a right-footed drive in at the near post but the ‘keeper caught it with safe hands.
Fortunes were favouring Bafana Bafana when they were handed a penalty in the 23rd minute after Mbatha was brought down by Souleymane Konate.
Bernard Parker made no error from the spot-kick, converting his second in as many games, but replays show that the tackle was made outside the box.
Mali tried to respond through Ibourahima Sidibe’s looping header which looked to be heading on target, but Khune did well to it tip over the bar for a corner, just three minutes later.
It could have been 2-0 for the home side just before the break if it wasn’t for Mamadou Traore brilliantly clearing away Mbatha’s shot at the near post with a glancing header.
But it was Les Aigles who were left ruing their luck three minutes from the interval when Abdoulaye Sissoko’s shot beat Khune but struck the bottom of the upright.
Khune nearly got a goal of his own in the first-half stoppages with a cheeky long-range effort from a free kick which nearly caught his opposite number out only to see it sail just over.
Thato Mokeke made a lovely challenge to break up a Mali attack but he couldn’t do anything about the following onslaught which saw the visitors restore parity. Diarra crossed in a beautiful long ball to tee up Sidibe and he struck home a great volley nine minutes into the second half.
Gordon Igesund’s side could have taken the lead just after the hour mark when both Parker and Asavela Mbikile missed chances from Tshabalala’s cross, however, the Chiefs man was offside.
Bafana were doing well to press the Malians and Parker forced a save out of Soumaila with his turn and shot of the ball midway through the second 45.
Despite Bafana Bafana’s attempts in the final stages of the game, Mali did well to hold out for a draw as both teams crawled up to four points each in Group A.
South Africa: (1) 1 (Parker (pen) 25’)
Mali: (0) 1 (Sidibe 54’)
South Africa: Khune, Mere, Mokeke, Nthete, Mkhwanazi, Kekana, Pattison, Tshabalala (Chabangu 81’), Mbatha, Parker, Manqele (Mbekile
Mali: Konate, Sibide, Keita, M.Traore (Kone 86’), Sissoko, Cherif, Lassana (L. Diawara 66’), Adama, Issaka, Soumaila, Yaya