Sunday, June 16, 2013

Benin 2 - Mali 2; Algeria 1 - Rwanda 0

Kigali was the scene for Rwanda's home match against Algeria.  Saphir Taider (pictured, white, shooting) nearly put the Algerians ahead in the second minute from a header from seven yards, but Rwanda goalkeeper Jean-Claude Ndoli (pictured, red) jumped straight up quickly to palm the ball out for a corner kick.  Ndoli next denied Islam Slimani (pictured, white, #13)  from the half circle on a low roller to the lower ninety.  The Algerian attack was relentless, but a well-timed block of a pass by Fabrice Twagizimana continued to hold the visitors at bay.  Ndoli was up to the task yet again when Algeria played a tricky free kick.  Algeria pretended to be adjusting the ball with a hand as three men pretended to debate who would strike.  Suddenly, a short pass was played and the shot was taken, but Ndoli parried to safety off a bounce.  The half ended without any goals having been scored.

The Fennec Foxes maintained their offensive mindset in the second period.  Finally, the pressure broke the Rwanda defense.  A long throw-in bounced into Slimani's possession.  Slimani did a magnificent no-look pass off a bouncing ball with his studs the sent Taider in on goal.  Taider's touch was a bit heavy, but it went just off the tip of the gloves of a sliding Ndoli, allowing for Taider to tap in the rebound.  Rwanda had a decent shot on-goal from a distant free kick, but a sliding push aside off the bounce by Algeria goalkeeper Adi Mbolhi did the job.  Salomon Nirisarike prevented a second goal for Algeria by beating two attackers to a rebound off another good Ndoli saved, shielding the ball until Ndoli could recover.  Taider was wrong-footed on a tap-in opportunity late, but his early strike was all that was needed for Algeria's first ever win in Rwanda in three attempts.  Algeria win 1-0, and the result spells the end for Benin's hopes of qualifying for Brasil 2014.

Bamako was the site for Benin's trip to Mali.  A massive goalkeeping error from Mali's Mamadou Samassa allowed a below average shot from Stephane Sessegnon to squirt through his hands and give Benin the early lead.  Mahamadou Samassa missed a free header that would have equalized within five minutes of the opening goal after a well-taken set piece from Seydou Keita.  However, unlike in the Rwanda game, Mali were able to respond quickly, drawing a penalty on a give-and-go.  They would equalize from the spot.  The game remained wide open as Benin had nothing to lose, having already been eliminated, and Mali needing a victory to stay alive in the competition.  On a counterattack, Jodel Dossou nearly curled in a goal for Benin, but Mamadou Samassa redeemed himself with a full-extension two-handed tip away.  A couple minutes later, Benin did regain the lead through a Razak Omotoyossi turnaround shot through two defenders.  Keita almost equalized on a drive following the resulting kickoff, but his shot was pushed aside by Benin goalkeeper Saturnin Allage.  At halftime, the scoreboard read Benin 2, Mali 1.

Cheick Diabate received a cross inside the Benin six-yard box, gathered the ball, pushed into open space, and then scored on a turning shot to equalize with twenty minutes to go in the match.  Mali, however, were unable to pull out the required victory.  The match ends in a 2-2 draw, Mali's second consecutive disappointing draw at home.  Mali become the twenty-fourth and final African team eliminated from the 2014 FIFA World Cup in June 2013.  Algeria are the third African side to clinch a berth in the CAF Third Round.

Algeria 12 pts IN
Mali OUT
Benin OUT
Rwanda OUT

Saphir Taider 52

Stephane Sessegnon 8
Razak Omotoyossi 32

Mahamadou Samassa 15 PK
Cheick Diabate 69

Match Reports:

Highlights: (Algeria v. Rwanda) (Benin v. Mali)

Full Match Video: (Algeria v. Rwanda) (Benin v. Mali)

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