AFCON: Ivorian fans celebrate win against Mali, to proceed to semis

Ivory Coast soccer fans celebrate on a street in Bouake, Ivory Coast after Ivory Coast won the African Cup of Nations quarter final soccer match against Mali
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AFCON 2023

Celebrations rocked several towns in Ivory Coast after Oumar Diakite scored in stoppage time of extra time to send 10-man Ivory Coast into the semifinals of the Africa Cup of Nations with a dramatic 2-1 win over northern neighbor Mali on Saturday.

Fans watching on large screens in Abidjan flipped into party mode, jumping, dancing and celebrating, but the real party only started after Diakité’s late winner.

After playing with 10 men for the entire second half and extra time, tournament host Ivory Coast actually finished the match with nine players as Diakité was booked for excessive celebrations amid scenes of unbridled joy among nearly 40,000 fans in the Stadium of the Peace in Bouaké.

Goalkeeper Ronwen Williams saved four penalties in the shootout for South Africa to also advance by beating Cape Verde 2-1 on penalties after their quarterfinal match ended 0-0 after extra time.

It was Diakité’s second yellow card, meaning he will miss the semifinal match against Congo on Wednesday.

Simon Adingra had equalized with Ivory Coast’s first shot on target in the 90th minute to send the match to extra time, and Diakité completed a thrilling comeback by scoring in what was the 122nd minute of the game.

“If it continues like this, I think we can do nice things,” Diakité said, referring to another remarkable recovery.

The Elephants came from behind to knock out defending champion Senegal on Monday. Ivory Coast had barely qualified for the knockout stage thanks only to results in other groups. It also fired its coach and tried unsuccessfully to hire another.

Ivory Coast was heading for a disappointing exit Saturday after Mali substitute Nene Dorgeles broke the deadlock with a brilliant strike from distance inside the top right corner in the 71st.

The Eagles had enjoyed a player advantage from the 43rd, when Odilon Kossounou was sent off with his second yellow card for a tactical foul to stop Mali forward Lassine Sinayoko.

Kossounou’s first yellow came earlier after conceding a penalty for his challenge on Sinayoko. Ivorian goalkeeper Yahia Fofana saved Adama Traoré’s spot kick.

Additional sources • AP

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