Ivory Coast has qualified for the semifinals of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) after completing a remarkable comeback against Mali in one of the most dramatic fashions.
The hosts continued their incredible escape at the AFCON by overcoming a deficit to defeat Mali 2-1 in Saturday’s quarter-final.
They secured a spot in the semi-finals against the Democratic Republic of Congo with a last-minute goal in extra time.
Oumar Diakite played a crucial role, deflecting Seko Fofana’s shot to secure the victory for the Ivorians, who played most of the match with 10 men due to Odilon Kossounou’s first-half red card.
Despite Mali taking a 71st-minute lead with Nene Dorgeles, the Ivorian team, fueled by the supportive crowd at the Stade de la Paix, fought back.
22-year-old Brighton winger Simon Adingra scored the equalizer in the 90th minute, forcing the game into extra time.
In the dying seconds of extra time, Diakite scored the winning goal but received a second booking for removing his shirt in celebration, leading to his own dismissal.
Mali’s Hamari Traore also received a red card at the final whistle.
The Ivorian team, initially struggling to advance as one of the four best third-placed finishers, revived their chances by narrowly defeating Senegal on post-match penalties in the last 16, following a prior 4-0 loss to Equatorial Guinea.
Their remarkable display of mental strength, determination, and a bit of luck has positioned them well for a potential spot in the final next weekend.