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Last Updated: Saturday, 7 February, 2004, 14:58 GMT
Mali squeeze through
By Farayi Mungazi
BBC Sport, Tunis

Frederic Kanoute scored his fourth goal in three games
Mali 2-1 Guinea

Mali captain Mahamadou Diarra saw his side through to the semi-finals of the African Cup of Nations with a last-gasp goal to beat brave Guinea.

Diarra's injury-time strike was heartbreaking for Guinea keeper Kemoko Camara, who allowed the curling shot to squirm under his body.

Underdogs Guinea had led through Pascal Feindouno's clinical early strike from Titi Camara's lay-off.

But Frederic Kanoute levelled with a neat chip on the stroke of half-time.

Mali's ability to withstand pressure and make the most of their limited opportunities enabled them to qualify for the semi-finals for the fourth time in four tournaments.

15 mins: Feindouno slots Guinea in front
45 mins: Kanoute chips an equaliser
90 mins: Camara lets Diarra's shot squeeze in

But the Eagles had to thank the butter-fingered Camara for their stoppage-time winner.

Camara fumbled a speculative 25-yard shot from Diarra to choke the breath out of the Syli Nationale's Nations Cup campaign.

Almost from kick-off, the pace was on, and only a diabolical piece of finishing by Dramane Traore when he came face to face with the goalkeeper in the fourth minute prevented the Eagles from poking their noses in front.

But after a shaky start, Guinea pulled themselves together and took the lead after 15 minutes.

I'm disappointed with the result but it wasn't the goalkeeper's fault - it was all of us
Titi Camara, Guinea

The highly-rated Feindounou finished off a delightful move by slotting the ball past goalkeeper Mahamadou Sidibe.

That saw Mali fall behind for the first time in this tournament and they struggled to find the right response as Guinea, making their first appearance in the quarter-finals since 1976, proved to be quicker in thought.

However, Mali were almost level eight minutes before the break when Kanoute caught the opposition defence fast asleep, but his thunderbolt from inside the box was brilliantly saved by the goalkeeper.

We kept cool. We equalised at the end of the first half and scored at the end of the game. We tried to keep playing and deserved the victory
Frederic Kanoute

The equaliser arrived deep into first-half stoppage time when Kanoute brushed aside the challenge of Almany Bah and chipped the ball over the advancing Camara to score his fourth goal of the competition.

At the start of the second half, Mali stormed their way into enemy territory but the Guinean defence held firm.

Kanoute's pace was a constant threat but the England-based striker missed a golden 60th-minute opportunity after a glorious through ball from Dramane Traore.

Pascal Feindouno scores Guinea's early opener
Pascal Feindouno sidefoots Guinea in front
Once Guinea got over that brief period of uncertainty, they played most of the match with confident freedom as Mali struggled to find top gear.

The lively Souleymane Youala was at the heart of many Guinean attacks and caused many anxious moments in the Malian defence.

In fact, so square were Mali at the back that almost any long ball seemed to cause total confusion.

But, just as the game seemed to be heading for extra-time, Guinea's Nations Cup hopes went up in smoke thanks to Camara's howler.

Mali will face Morocco in Wednesday's semi-final in Sousse.

Mali: 1-Mahamadou Sidibe, 2-Souleymane Diamoutene, 3-Fousseiny Diawara, 4-Adama Coulibaly, 17-Sammy Traore, 6-Mahamadou Diarra (captain), 8-Bassala Toure (12-Seydou Keita 79), 10-Soumaila Coulibaly, 11-Djibril Sidibe, 19-Frederic Kanoute, 20-Dramane Toure (18-Lamine Sissoko 60)

Guinea: 16-Kemoko Camara, 6-Schumann Bah, 17-Soumah Morlaye (c) (13-Ibrahima Conte 74), 5-Bobo Balde, 8-Kanfory Sylla, 11-Souleymane Youla, 2-Pascal Feindouno, 3-Abdoul Salam Sow, 7-Fode Mansare, 14-Ousmane Ngom Camara, 10-Aboubacar Titi Camara.

Referee: Essam Abdel Fatah (Egypt)

Mali striker Frederic Kanoute
"I think we deserved to win the match"

Match Highlights
Mali 2-1 Guinea

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