Intense Clash: Mali vs. Guinea for U-23 AFCON Bronze and Olympic Spot

Intense Clash: Mali vs. Guinea for U-23 AFCON Bronze & Olympic Spot

Two West African nations, Mali and Guinea, will battle later today at Ibn Batouta Stadium, Tangier, Morocco, by 6:00 pm Nigerian time for the third place prize of the U-23 AFCON football championship in Morocco and the precious ticket for the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics in France.Intense Clash: Mali vs. Guinea for U-23 AFCON Bronze & Olympic Spot

Two North African teams—the hosts, Morocco, and Egypt—had earlier picked tickets for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games after separately defeating the two West African sides in the semi-final stage.

Egypt defeated Guinea 1-0 in the first semi-final match played at Ibn Batouta Stadium, Tangier, Morocco, while the hosts defeated hard-fighting opponents Mali 6-5 on goal aggregate in the second semi-final match.

The game between Morocco and Mali ended 2-2 at full time, and the hosts ran away with a 4-3 score line after a penalty shootout to qualify for the final against Egypt.

Mohamed Shehata scored the only goal of the match for the defending champions early in the 8th minute of the first half with an assist from Ahmed Atef.

The match saw two players from each side receive yellow cards from the referee: Naby Oulare (45 + 2 minutes), Ousmane Camare (54 minutes) from Guinea, Ahmed Atef( 25 minutes), and Ibrahim Adel (45+5 minutes) from Egypt.

In the second semi-final match, Zakaria El Ouahdi scored in the 13th minute to keep the score 1-0 in favour of the hosts, Morocco, at the end of the first half.

Mamady Diambou levelled the scores 1-1 for Mali in the 76th minute of the second half to end the match 1-1 after 90 minutes of regulation.

Amine El Ouazzani shot Morocco into a 2-1 lead in the 108th minute of extra time, while Issouf Maiga equalised the match 2-2 for Mali in the 115th minute of extra time.

At full time, the scores stood at 2-2, and the two sides went into a penalty shootout.

Boubacar Traore and Hamed Diamante missed their respective penalties for Mali, while compatriots Mamady Diambou, Hamidou, and Mohamadou Lamine Bah converted their penalties.

Ousmane Tanghalline, Amine El Ouazzani, and Younes Taha scored their penalties for the hosts, Morocco.

The highest goal scorer of the tournament, Abdessamad Ezzalzouli, scored his fourth goal in the tournament through a Penalty goal and sealed a final ticket for Morocco with a 4-3 scoreline after the penalty shootout.

Final scores stood at 6-5 on goal aggregate in favour of Morocco. Tomorrow, Saturday, July 8, 2023, hosts Morocco will battle defending champions Egypt in a North African derby to determine the winner of the U-23 AFCON football tournament in Morocco.

The final match will kick off at 9:00 p.m. Nigerian time at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Sports Complex in Rabat, Morocco.

The fourth continental representative in Paris 2024, France, will be decided after a playoff between the U-23 AFCON third-place loser and the representative of the Asian Football Confederation, AFC, later this year.

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About the Author

Obum Akawor
A retired Senior Civil Servant and sports journalist. A Fellow, Chartered Institute of Administration, FCAI.

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