Mali protest against 'non-match'

LUANDA - Mali have lodged an official protest over what they describe as "the complete non-match" between Angola and Algeria that knocked them out of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).

LUANDA - Mali have lodged an official protest over what they describe as "the complete non-match" between Angola and Algeria that knocked them out of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).

The hosts and Algeria played out a goalless draw on Monday to send both sides into the quarterfinals from Group A at the expense of Mali. Angola finished top on five points with Algeria second on four.

Stephen Keshi's side finished level with Algeria after beating Malawi 3-1 on Monday but were squeezed out, having lost 1-0 to the Desert Foxes last week.

Angola and Algeria went at each other's throats in an open first half at the 11 November Stadium but when news filtered through from Cabinda that Mali were fully in control the second half turned into a dreary affair with neither team prepared to take any unnecessary risks.

That attitude incensed the Mali team, who have written to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to officially complain.

"We are lodging a vehement protest against the behaviour of the Algeria and Angola teams," wrote Mali Football Federation president Boubacar Thiam.

"The second half was a total non-match, the two sides systematically refusing to play in order to maintain the score at 0-0, which was sufficient for qualification. This anti-sporting behaviour is contrary to the ethics and the fair-play policy put forward by Fifa and CAF must condemn it."

As a precedent for his protest, Thiam cited a similar incident at the Afcon Youth Championships in 2001, when Cameroon and Egypt were made to replay a match after a goalless draw. The notion that Monday's draw had been "arranged" by Angola and Algeria before kickoff was denied by Algeria coach Rabah Saadane and Angola captain Kali. - Sapa-AFP

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