Emmanuel Agyemang Badu sent Ghana into the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals with a stunning goal in their 1-1 draw against Guinea on Wednesday, while Mali joined them thanks to Seydou Keita’s winner against Botswana.
Midfielder Badu, 21, collected a corner just outside the penalty area, flicked the ball up with his left foot and then sent a dipping volley into the far corner with his right foot to give the Black Stars the point they needed.
African Footballer of the Year runner-up Keita’s first goal of the tournament in the 75th minute gave Mali a 2-1 win over debutants Botswana, who at least kept the score respectable after losing 6-1 to Guinea in their previous match.
Ghana topped Group D with seven points, with Mali on six and Guinea with four. Botswana failed to get off the mark.
Both Ghana’s game in France-ville and the Mali match in Libreville were played in near deserted stadiums, a problem which has plagued the tournament both in Gabon, where Wednesday’s matches were played, and co-hosts Equatorial Guinea.
The tournament was hit by another case of indiscipline, as Tunisian midfielder Adel Chedi walked out on his team after failing to get any playing time at the tournament.
Chedli had left the team in Franceville and was heading back to Tunisia, Tunisian media officer Zouhaier Ward said.
The French-born Chedli, one of two survivors from the squad that won the Africa Cup of Nations in 2004, was sent to the stands for Tuesday’s 1-0 defeat by co-hosts Gabon after reacting angrily to being left out of the team for the game.
Chedli’s departure, ahead of Tunisia’s appearance in Sunday’s quarter-final, follows the expulsion of Zambia’s Clifford Mulenga by his side for breaking a curfew and failing to apologize.
Ghana are scheduled to face Tunisia in Sunday’s quarter-final, while Mali are set to play Gabon in one of the most open and entertaining Nations Cup tournaments in years.
In the other matches tomorrow, Equatorial Guinea are scheduled to meet Ivory Coast, the co-favorites alongside Ghana, and Zambia are to play Sudan.
Ghana had the run of the dice against Guinea, who were unlucky not to win the game and force a three-way tie with their opponents and Mali. That would have forced organizers to bring the calculators out to determine the top two sides under the complicated head-to-head system.
Guinea had a penalty appeal turned down and a goal ruled out for offside before Badu, part of Ghana’s under-20 world championship-winning team in 2009, produced his masterpiece.
Guinea leveled in first-half stoppage-time with a fortuitous effort. Abdoul Razzagui Camara sent what appeared to be an intended cross over from the left, but the ball flew over a bemused Ghana goalkeeper, Adam Kwarasey, and into the net — the first goal Ghana have conceded at the tournament.
Guinea continued to have the better of the game after the break, but lost momentum when Mamadou Dioulde Bah was sent off in the 70th minute, receiving a second yellow card for a high tackle.
In Libreville, Botswana scored first against the run of play with a sweeping move out of their midfield, started and finished by Mogakolodi Ngele in the 51st minute.
However, Mali’s pressure paid off six minutes later with Abdou Traore turning the defense before providing a cross that Modibo Maiga forcefully headed goalward. Botswana goalkeeper Modiri Marumo could only parry it right to Garra Dembele, who hammered home from close range.