4th African Nations Championships:
Final: DR Congo 1-0 Mali (Half-Time)
From the passion, energy and zeal by which Democratic Republic of Congo and Mali players warmed up, marched to the playing field and sang the respective national anthems, one could depict an electric finale of the 2016 CHAN edition.
When the Rwandan president, Paul Kagame greeted both teams shortly before kick-off, the tense crowd applauded with deafening cheers.
Neither could the rains that started with the opening whistle halt the action, but rather acted as a catalyst to the already charged up atmosphere.
The Congolese started in a brighter note with Elia Mechak freely heading wide off Joyce Lomisa’s cross from the left.
Three minutes later, it was Congo again with Mali goalie, Djigui mis-judging Mechak’s cross from the right. Its Congo in dominance.
By the 10th minute, Mali had also registered an attempt of their own, Mamadou Coulibally with a left footed shot flying narrowly wide of goal.
As the rains slightly reduced, either sides had already started to test the slippery effects of the Amahoro natural grass turf.
Then arrived the moment of the half two minutes from the half hout mark.
The industrious Mechak, dribbling from the left curled the ball in the upright of the West African’s net to spark wild celebrations from the stands.
Abdoulaye Diarra had a chance to make amends three minutes later, but his intended lop was a routine collection by goalie, Matampi.
Come the 36th minute, TP Mazembe forward, Jonathan Bolingi whose physicality has been easily matched by Mali’s central defence pairing of Karim Dante and Mamadou Doumba had a left footed shot parried for a corner by Djigui.
As the first half neared the climax, Mali’s Lassan Samake earned a booking for bringing down the lively Mechack in what looked like a professional foul that warrants a send off.
There is plenty of time left on the clock and either side to cement who wins the final at the end of the day when South African referee, Daniel Frazer Bennett blows for the final full time whistle.
Team Line Ups:
DR Congo XI:
Ley Matampi (G.K), Junior Baometu, Joyce Lomisa, Elia Mechak, Zacharie Mombo, Doxa Gikanji, Nelson Munganga, Merveille Bope, Joel Kimwaki (C), Jonathan Bolingi Mpangi, Yannick Bangala
Padou Bompunga (suspended), Christian Ngudikama, Franck Mfuki, Sedrick Ngulubi, Christian Ngimbi, Ricky Tulenge, Jean Marc Makusu, Guelord Landu, Miche Mika, Guy Lusadisu, Heritier Nke
Coach: Florent Ibenge
Djigui Diarra (G.K), Issaka Samake, Hamidou Sinayoko, Mamadou Coulibaly, Lassana Samake, Moussa Sissoko, Mamadou Doumbia, Aliou Dieng, Abdoulaye Diarra, Abdoul Karim Karim Dante, Sekou Koita
Samuel Diarra (G.K), Alassane Diallo (G.K), Ousame Diarra, Abdoulaye Traore, Assoko Hamed Marius, Diarra Sekou, Abdoul Toure, Yves Bissouma, Lamine Traore, Oumar Kone, N’guessan Kouame, Yaya Samake
Coach: Djibril Drame (Mali)
Central Referee: Daniel Frazer Bennet (South Africa)
1st Assistant Referee: Berhe O’Michael (Eritrea)
2nd Assistant Referee: Mohammed Ibrahim (Sudan)
Reserve Referee: Joshua Bondo (Botswana)
Commissioner: Anjorin Moucharafou (Benin)
General Coordinator: Paul Bassey (Nigeria)