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Ghana, Mali book berth in quarters
January 29, 2013 , 10 : 10 pm
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Ghana’s midfielder Derek Boateng, left, vies with Niger’s forward Issoufou Alhassane (on ground) during a 2013 Africa Cup of Nations football match. Pic: AFP
Ghana and Mali took contrasting routes to join Ivory Coast, South Africa and Cape Verde Islands in the African Nations Cup quarterfinals on Monday. Whereas Ghana, who clinched first place in Group B, breezed past Niger 3-0 in Port Elizabeth, Mali battled out a war of attrition against the Democratic Republic of Congo to earn the point they needed from a 1-1 draw.
Following a game littered with 51 fouls, Mali set up an intriguing quarter-final against hosts South Africa back in Durban on Saturday. Ghana, who will play Cape Verde in Port Elizabeth, finished top of the group with seven points followed by Mali (4), DR Congo (3) and Niger one.
"I am delighted we have qualified, but it was not easy to do so," Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah
told reporters."But we got an early goal and that settled us down and I thought that we did very well. There is still room for improvement, we are still a developing team but we are
After on Sunday's drama when Group A swung this way and that between all four teams before South Africa and Cape Verde reached the last eight at the expense of Morocco and Angola, on Monday was tame by comparison.
Ghana went ahead in the sixth minute when Asamoah Gyan struck with a powerful angled shot and they doubled their lead after 23 minutes when Christian Atsu trapped a cross on his chest before volleying home from close range.
Ghana sealed the points and their last-eight slot early in the second half when John Boye tapped in from close range after Niger goalkeeper Daouda Kassaly made a mess of catching a Gyan header and spilled the ball straight to the lurking defender.
Niger battled gamely but never threatened Ghana's dominance and at the end the Ghana players celebrated their victory with thousands of fans who have renewed hope that the four-times champions can win the tournament for the fifth time after a wait of 31 years since their last title.
Mali recovered from conceding a first-minute penalty to draw with the Congolese and dominate a game their opponents had to win to qualify. They started the night a point behind Mali and ended it in the same position despite being unbeaten. After three draws they are heading home.
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