Four-time champions Ghana qualified for the quarter-finals of Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) 2017 when they beat Mali 1-0 in a Group D match at Stade de Port-Gentil, Port-Gentil, Gabon, on Saturday (January 21). In another game of the group, seven-time winners Egypt earned a late goal to eliminate Uganda from the tournament.
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Ghana maintained their 100 per cent record in the ongoing edition after their captain Asamoah Gyan netted the solitary goal of the match in the 21st minute. He converted an Andre Ayew shot from six yards through a header.
Ayew, however, could have helped Ghana to get the lead earlier. Christian Atsu skillfully broke past the Mali defence as he laid off a pass to Jordan Ayew, Andre's brother, but Andre got in the way and even though he recovered, his shot fell wide off the target.
Mali, who are still looking for their first goal of the tournament, had a few openings but failed to convert any. Moussa Marega couldn't score either through a header or a kick. The West African nation, however, had a better second-half with Yves Bissouma coming in and posed danger to the Ghanaian defence.
But it was Razak Brimah, the Ghanaian goalkeeper, who proved to be impenetrable. He made two crucial saves towards the end to deny Mali a chance for a comeback. He blocked a certain goal from Kalifa Coulibaly and then stopped a thunderous volley from Bakary Sakho in the stoppage time to ensure that his team picked up all three points.
Egypt win against Uganda
Egypt won 1-0 against Uganda to keep their knockout hopes alive. The far-too-late goal came following some fancy work from Mohamed Salah as he teed up El Said who hit a powerful shot past Denis Onyango, the Ugandan keeper.
Twenty-four-year-old Salah, however, could have scored before the interval but Onyango's clean work with the head denied the Roma winger the chance.
Despite Uganda making a bright start in the second half forcing Egypt's keeper to make a number of saves, they just could not find a way past their defence. Uganda did get an opportunity in the 51st minute but Joseph Ochaya was clearly offside and Uganda got eliminated from Afcon. They were playing in the Afcon for the first time since 1978.
On Wednesday (Jan 25), Egypt will play Ghana in a group-winner decider while Mali will try to make it to the knockouts by winning their final group game against Uganda by a big margin. However, they can advance to the next stage only if Egypt lose.