Mali spot on for semi-finals

Soumaila Diakite was the hero for Mali after saving two penalties in their 3-1 quarter-final shootout win over hosts South Africa.

Tokelo Rantie had given South Africa the lead on 31 minutes at the Moses Mabhida Stadium before Seydou Keita equalised 12 minutes into the second period.

Neither side could create any more meaningful opportunities in the 90 minutes and following a dull 30 minutes of extra time, the game went to spot kicks. Mali converted all their penalties, while Diakite saved from Dean Furman and May Mahlangu before Lehlohonolo Majoro shot woefully wide as Gordon Igesund's side crashed out.

It was Mali who had the first shot of the game, but from 25 yards out Keita could not find the target. South Africa came back and after 12 minutes Adama Coulibaly had to block Bernard Parker's goalbound effort, with the resulting cross headed wide by Mahlangu.

Eight minutes later and Diakite was forced into his first save of the match, parrying Tokelo Rantie's effort to safety. However, he could not keep out Rantie just after the half-hour mark as he converted Thuso Phala's cross from six yards.

Mali had a decent chance to level immediately, but from the edge of the area Modibo Maiga's weak effort was easily gathered by goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune. On the stroke of half-time they had an excellent chance to level, but Keita's corner was headed wide by Molla Wague from just six yards out.

They did however get their leveller 12 minutes after the restart and it came from talisman Keita, who headed Mahamadou Samassa's cross home from close range. Full of confidence, Mali looked for a second and just after the hour mark almost took the lead with Khune again coming to the hosts' rescue, pushing Samassa's effort round the post.

It was as close as either side got in the second period, forcing the game into extra-time. Neither side showed any attacking intent and seemed happy enough for the game to go to penalties.

Siphiwe Tshabalala converted South Africa's first spot-kick, but after Cheick Diabate scored for Mali it started to fall apart for the hosts. Furman and then Mahlangu's weak efforts were saved and after Adama Tamboura and Mahamane Traore had scored for Mali it was left to Majoro to keep his side in the competition. Sadly for South Africa his effort flew way wide of the post and Mali went through.

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