Tunisia 0-1 Mali: Ibrahima Kone nets the winner from the penalty spot before Wahbi Khazri sees his spot-kick saved as he went in search of an equalizer in AFCON’s opening Group F match – which is overshadowed by a controversial EARLY finish.
Ibrahima Kone netted the only goal of the game as Mali made a winning start to their Africa Cup of Nations group.
The result, which came as a surprise given the gap in the FIFA World Rankings, was overshadowed by the controversial officiating of the referee, who blew for full-time prematurely on two occasions.
Press conferences were halted and Mali’s players returned to the pitch to play out the remaining minutes, such was the furore, but it Tunisia’s players did not show and it is believed they refused to play as a protest against the officiating.
First Kone converted his attempt after a handball from Ellyes Skhiri, blocking Boubakar Kouyaté’s shot, which looked to be heading wide.
Skhiri was facing away from the strike and can count himself unfortunate but having dominated a first half that failed to see a single shot on target from either side, Mali had earned a stroke of good fortune.
But their hard work looked set to be undone when Tunisia’s Wahbi Khazri was given the opportunity to level from a penalty of his own.
The handball by Southampton’s Moussa Djenepo, who impressed on the day, was given at the second opportunity after the referee was encouraged to review the decision at the pitchside VAR moment.
With the penalty given, former Sunderland striker Khazri puffed out his cheeks but he could not follow suit as his effort was saved by Mali goalkeeper Ibrahima Mounkoro 13 minutes from time.
It was a smart save down low to his right and Mounkoro was soon mobbed by his team-mates.