Mali meet Ghana hoping to repeat history

Mali hope history is repeated when they face Ghana on Saturday for the bronze medal at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.

Ghana defeated Mali 2-0 in the first round of the 2012 championship only for the losers to bounce back and win the third-place play-off by the identical score thanks to a Cheick Tidiane Diabate brace.

A Mubarak Wakaso penalty earned Ghana a 1-0 win over Mali in the first round of this year's edition at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth and that is where the teams play again this weekend with the Eagles seeking revenge.

These play-offs are usually decided in favour of the team that carries less psychological baggage into the game, and Mali were clearly more up for the battle in Equatorial Guinea a year ago.

This time, though, both teams are hurting after Mali were thrashed 4-1 by rampant Nigeria in Durban and Ghana lost on penalties to surprise package Burkina Faso in Nelspruit after a controversial 1-1 draw.

In a swift reaction to a number of strange decisions, including a soft penalty to Ghana and the harsh red carding of Burkina Faso star Jonathan Pitroipa, Tunisian referee Slim Jdidi has been suspended indefinitely.

Mali captain and talisman Seydou Keita believes his Eagles failed to soar against Nigeria because the players did not work together like they had done in ousting hosts South Africa 2-1 in the quarter-finals.

But the former Barcelona player warned against finger pointing in the Malian camp as they try to win for the second time in five bronze-medal play-offs with the losses coming against Nigeria (twice) and Ivory Coast.

"Blaming other people is a waste of time and takes us nowhere," stressed the 33-year-old competing at his sixth Cup of Nations, having made his debut when Mali hosted the 2002 tournament.

"We did well against South Africa because we played as a team. We did not play well against Nigeria and there must be a collective sharing of the responsibility for that failure."

Ghana have reached the semi-finals at the last four tournaments, but made the final only once, meaning they have become frequent competitors in a third-place match, every footballer wants to avoid.

Captain Asamoah Gyan offered a brave front: "We are very down, naturally, but we must lift ourselves for the sake of our nation. It is not the match we wanted to be involved in this weekend, but there are medals at stake."

No Black Star has more to play for than Wakaso, a find of this tournament and joint leading scorer with Nigerian Emmanuel Emenike on four goals as the race for the Golden Boot award goes down to the final two matches.

  • Popular hot yoga myths debunked 5 hours ago
    Popular hot yoga myths debunked

    What’s the hottest new workout taking the world by storm? That would be hot yoga, also known as Bikram yoga. Conducted in a heated room with sweltering temperatures of about 40°C (or approximately 104° Fahrenheit) and 40 per cent humidity, … Continue reading →

  • Thursday #sgroundup: Body found of boy who made first call from Korea ferry: report 6 hours ago
    Thursday #sgroundup: Body found of boy who made first call from Korea ferry: report

    Here are today’s top trending stories in case you missed them.

  • Look, don't touch: Flickr photo of the day 17 hours ago
    Look, don't touch: Flickr photo of the day

    If there's one car that's particularly sought-after among today's well-heeled car collectors, a Ferrari 250 would be it. Usually it's the GTO variant, like the 1963 that sold for a record $52 million last year. A 250 of any sorts demands unfathomable cash, however, which is why we can but gawk at this 250 Testa Rossa. It's as close as any mere mortal will ever come to owning one.

  • Photo of a very thin Lee Kuan Yew sparks concern
    Photo of a very thin Lee Kuan Yew sparks concern

    A new picture of Singapore's first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, who is now 90 years old, has drawn concern from people on Singapore's internet space.

  • Waste oil collector struggles after STOMP posts, receives help from kind souls
    Waste oil collector struggles after STOMP posts, receives help from kind souls

    After being photographed at work in Jurong pooling used oil near coffee shops, 50-year-old Valerie Sim has been struggling to keep her family afloat. Web portals STOMP and The Real Singapore published pictures of her in February, triggering a witch hunt for others like her and comments from readers like “Who knows if they’ll use it as cooking oil?” Some readers also said they filed police reports against her and other people they believed were doing the same thing she was.

  • Indonesian general says his flashy watch is a fake
    Indonesian general says his flashy watch is a fake

    JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia's military commander said critics who called him out for wearing an especially luxurious watch should be quiet because the timepiece is actually a cheap Chinese fake.