Keita scores as Mali qualifies for the quarter-finals

Keita scores as Mali qualifies for the quarter-finals

Mali has qualified for the knock out stages of the 2012 African Cup of Nations, after beating Botswana 1-2 to finish second in Group D with 6 points. All the goals came in the second half, with FC Barcelona midfielder Seydou Keita scoring the game winning goal for Mali in the 74th minute. More details of the match and highlights can be found after the jump.

Mali, who faced elimination from the competition at certain points during the game, found themselves a goal down at the start of the second half when Ngele, through a cross from Moatlhaping, beat Mali keeper Oumar Sissoko.

Mali reacted and five minutes later, in the 56th minute, Freiburg forward Garra Dembele tied the score at 1-1. The forward pounced on a loose ball to score from a half volley, after Maiga initially met Traore’s cross from the left flank.

Approaching the final stretch, and with the entrance of Coulibaly and Diabeté onto the pitch, Mali took control of the match. In the 68th minute, Mali almost took the lead when Coulibaly struck the bottom side of the crossbar, with the ball bouncing away from the goal.

With only about a quarter of an hour to go, Seydou Keita connected with Diabete, who set up the Barça player to strike the ball from the edge of the box. This second goal sealed Mali’s qualification to the next round as the other game in Group D finished in a 1-1 draw, with Guinea and Ghana sharing the points.

Mali will face Gabon in the quarter-finals on Sunday at 17:00 Barcelona time. Gabon topped Group C with 9 points from 3 wins against Tunisia, Morocco and Niger.

Highlights:

Sources: Sport, FIFA.com; Image Credit: AP Photo/Francois Mori