By Sedara Philip
Mahamoud Barry scored with four minutes left and Mamadou Doumbia’s scorcher in stoppage time secured Mali’s passage into the quarter finals of the TotalEnergies U17 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) with a 2-0 win over Cameroon in Annaba on Thursday.
The victory, Mali’s second consecutive in the group, takes them to six points and assures them of top spot while defending champions Cameroon are now faced with a must win duel against Burkina Faso in their final group match to have a chance of progression.
With South Sudan eliminated before the start of the competition, the group is left with three teams. The top two qualify automatically for the quarters while the third placed team will have to wait to see whether they ranked as one of top two in that position across the three groups.
Barry beat the keeper one on one in the 86th minute when he beat the offside trap to collect a pass from skipper Ibrahim Diarra.
And Doumbia put the icing on the cake with a blinder of a goal, curling the ball beyond the keeper from almost 25 yards out in added time.
The two-time champions scored just quarter of an hour after Cameroon had wasted a glorious opportunity. Essono Dipanda had done well on the left to cut back a cross into the edge of the six yard box, but Dorinel Yondjo skied his effort from close range.
It was a tough game with a fine balance of chances in either half, but Mali made the most of their best opportunity.
In the first half, there were no efforts on target, with Cameroon’s Harouna Djibirin having a good effort curl wide from close range while Yondjo fluffed his lines when he broke into the box from a chipped ball behind the defense.
Cameroon will take on Burkina Faso on Sunday with pressure on for a win while Mali have their group phase campaign all sewn out and are waiting for the third placed team from either Group A or B in the quarters.