Just like they did at the last Africa Cup of Nations, Mali and Ghana will battle it out for the “Losers’ Final” this weekend.
These two foes will clash at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth in a third and fourth place playoff match on Saturday night. Kick-off at 20h00 (CAT).
Mali was completely outplayed in their 4-1 semifinal thrashing to Nigeria in Durban on Wednesday. A disastrous first half, where they trailed 3-0 at half time was their demise. With their influential skipper and playmaker Seydou Keita being anonymous in the game, the Eagles never matched their West African counterparts.
Ghana have been less than convincing in this tournament and they finally cracked when they were eliminated by Burkina Faso later in the day after the first semifinal. The Black Stars lost on penalties to a Burkina Faso side that faced poor refereeing decisions after the match finished 1-1 in regulation time.
The venue for this third and fourth place finish match will be familiar to these two teams. It is the city in which they based for in the duration of the group phase. Ghana will be playing their fifth match of the tournament at this venue, they are unbeaten in all.
Mali have played two group matches in Port Elizabeth, winning their first which was against minnows Niger, and losing to this weekend’s opponents Ghana.
The Malians looked to have run out of steam in their tournament as they seem to have played their best matches, as for Ghana they managed to pull through matches by grinding out results. Cape Verde played better than them in the quarterfinals but the Black Stars’ tournament experience saw them through.
Mali are slow starters in matches and it backfired against the Nigerian Super Eagles. Except for their opening match against Niger, the Malians have never led in any other match.
They relied on comebacks against the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa. Mali also remains the only side in the tournament so far to suffer a defeat in open play, which was the 1-0 loss to Ghana.
At Equatorial Guinea and Gabon in 2012 both sides were, just like this year, placed in the same group. Ghana won the Group match 2-0 but the Eagles got their revenge in the Bronze Medal match, winning by the same scoreline.