NAIROBI, February 4 – Mali upset African champions Ivory Coast 1-0 to qualify to the finals of the African Nations Championships in Rwanda on Thursday.
Malian substitute Yves Bissouma scored the 89th minute winner to set up a final clash with the Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday.
The losers will play debutants Guinea in the play-off on the same day.
Mali should have gone ahead in the 32 minute when Mamadou Coulibaly had a penalty saved by the Ivorian keeper Ali Sangare Badra when he tipped the ball over the bar.
The Eagles, however had survived an early scare, which saw Essis Aka fire from a long range which rebounded off the upright in the 10th minute.
In a bid to break the Ivorian resistance, Mali introduced Kouame N’Guessan early in the second half to replace Coulibaly, and the AS Real Bamako striker made an instant impact.
A one-two combination with Sekou upfront nearly resulted in a goal on the hour, but Kouame failed to tap in the easy chance from the close range.
A few minutes later, fellow striker Hamidu Sinayoko also had his strike at the goal saved by Badra.
Bissouma’s late goal takes Mali into their first continental cup final where they will face DR Congo, winners of the inaugural tournament in 2009.