PRETORIA: Only on its second matchday did the 29th Africa Cup of Nations finals produce a winner.
This was Mali’s 1-0 triumph over Group B opponents Niger here last night to record the first win after three stalemates since the spectacle kicked off at the National Stadium on Saturday.
The opener saw Bafana Bafana and Cape Verde play to a drab goalless draw.
It was the same score margin in the second Group A match between Morocco and Angola.
However, the Democratic Republic of Congo versus Ghana tie in an early fixture in Port Elizabeth yesterday ended in an enthralling 2-all draw.
The win last night saw Mali move atop of their group.
Mali captain Keita Seydou scored the only goal of the match in the 76th minute after picking up a lose ball that was dropped by Niger’s goalkeeper Daouda Kassaly.
Meanwhile, DR Congo staged a dramatic come-back from 2-0 down to level matters and share the spoils with Ghana, reports Mazola Molefe.
The way they started the encounter left many people asking if the Leopards were ready to pack their bags and head back home as earlier reports indicated that coach Claude Le Roy and his men were ready to snub the tournament because of a bonus row.
This somehow gave credence to their sluggish first-half display.
But many easily rebuffed the claims after the DRC’s courageous second-half performance
Agyeman Badu grabbed the opener for Ghana. He had been brilliantly set up by left-back Kwadwo Asamoah in the 40th minute, and the defender was to also get on the scoring sheet with a thumping header five minutes into the second half.
The Black Stars looked to have accepted the tournament favourites tag, while DRC appeared clueless and without Plan B.
Thus until Le Roy’s side were rewarded for their persistence and patience. Key-man, striker and skipper Tresor Mputu pulled one back in the 53rd minute, waltzing past the Ghana defence and sliding the ball home past keeper Dauda.
Ghana were still in control and looked like they would score a third goal when the DRC got the all important goal, albeit via the penalty spot.
It was not a controversial decision from referee Daniel Bennett. What was disputable was the fact that the man in the middle had denied Ghana a clear-spot kick of their own when striker Asamoah Gyan saw his shot come off the arm of a DRC defender minutes earlier.
Bezua Mbokani converted the penalty kick to draw the Leopards level . Ghana, who had the majority of the ball possession for most of the match, then panicked and allowed the Leopards to come at them.