Mali became the first side to score more than 2 goals at this year’s AFCON after they put up an absolutely remarkable display to see off debutants Mauritania.
It was a tough debut for the Mourabitounes of Mauritania as the gulf in class and quality showed for 90 minutes.
The Malians did almost everything right and played the sort of fluid and fearless football they have recently been charactised with.
They got the opener thier dominance deserved in the 37th minute after Captain Abdoulaye Diaby struck a pile driver into the top corner.
They doubled thier lead 5 minutes later when Marega converted from the spot. That was the Big Porto striker’s first goal in the AFCON and it gave Mali a 2-0 lead at Half time.
Mali contimued from where they stopped in the second half and soon got the third after slippery and skillful midfielder, Adama Traore dribbled his way through the Mauritanian rear guard and placed a low effort in the net.
He was then substituted for his namesake, Adama Traore. Soon after, Mauritania got their first ever AFCON goal after striker Fofana was brought down in the box. Hacen took responsibility and made no mistaje from the penalty spot.
The joy would only last for a short time as Mali replied with a goal of their own as substitute Adama Traore hit a screamer from outside the box into the top corner.
At this point, the Eagles were just having their own goal of the tournament competition. The game ended 4-1 as Mali go top of Group E.
The other group E game ended in a stalemate as there was very little to separate Tunisia and Angola. M’sakni converted from the spot to give the Tunisians the lead in the first half after Sliti was brought down in the box. Djalma got the equaliser for Angola in the 72nd minute as both sides shared the spoils in Suez.
Ealier in the day, the Elephants of La cote d’ivoire pipped South Africa 1-0 in their tournament opener. Wilfried Zaha was left on the bench for the game as the experience of Max Alain Gradel was preferred instead. Jonathan Kodjia scored the only goal for the Ivorians after he missed one brilliant opportunity in the first half. Making his tournament debut, Nicholas Pepe, coming in on the back of a brilliant season, had 2 free kicks hit the bar and then saved in either half of the game in what was a good day for the Elephants
The last match for the first round of group stage games kicks off in Ismailia as the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon take on the Guinea Bissau first and then later , the Black Stars of Ghana play their Benin counterparts.