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Namibia qualify for Cup of Nations last-16 for first time

NAMIBIA qualified for the knockout phase of the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time as they held Mali to a 0-0 draw in their last group game on Wednesday.

Namibia qualified as one of the four best third-placed finishers after they ended their Group E campaign with four points. Mali won the group with five points and South Africa were second also with four, finishing above Namibia after beating them 4-0 on Sunday.

Tunisia were eliminated after they drew 0-0 with South Africa in the other Group E game.

Group winners Mali advance to a last-16 meeting with Burkina Faso in Korhogo next Tuesday while Namibia will play neighbours Angola on Saturday.

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Namibia had beaten Tunisia in their opening group game to register their first win at the tournament in their fourth appearance and took the achievement a step further with their qualification on Wednesday.

They showed no ill effects from a 4-0 thumping by neighbours South Africa in their second group game as they went head-to-head with the powerful Mali side.

Namibia had the first opportunity after 16 minutes when diminutive Prins Tjiueza cut through the defence but hit the upright with his effort, with the rebound from captain Peter Shalulile from point blank range saved by Mali’s Djigui Diarra.

Five minutes later, Mali had their first effort as Fousseni Diabate fired a powerful left-footed shot at goal but it was parried away.

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There was an even better opportunity in the 28th minute after an inviting cross from Youssoufou Niakite found Lassine Sinayoko unmarked with the Namibia defence out of position but he steered it wide of the target.

Sinayako had scored in both of their previous group games against South Africa and Tunisia.

There were two more half-chances for Mali in a languid second half with both sides looking tired after their exertions in the group.

Amadou Dante’s free kick five minutes from the end needed a sharp save from Namibia goalkeeper Loydt Kazapua but Mali’s other late efforts were resisted with some determined defending.

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By The African Mirror

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