Penalty shootout defeat denies them a place in the U23 African Cup of Nations final
- Brahima Diarra starts again for Mali Under-23s
- 19-year-old earns fifth cap in penalty shootout defeat
- Final game on Friday decides third place
It was heartbreak for Brahima Diarra and the Mali Under-23 side on Tuesday evening, with a penalty shootout defeat denying them a place in the U23 Africa Cup of Nations Final.
The Malians drew 2-2 with tournament hosts Morocco over 120 minutes, and in the end one missed penalty from one of Brahima’s teammates denied them a chance at winning the tournament.
Diarra and his nation had performed brilliantly against one of the tournament favourites in normal and added time and came back from behind twice to take the game to penalties.
Brahima, making his second start to earn his fifth cap at this level, played the first 99 minutes and was a genuine attacking threat throughout.
Having been pushed into a position as a striker following an injury to a teammate at the end of the first half, he played a big role in Mali’s first goal; after a trademark surge forward, he played a superb cross-field pass to the left and a teammate converted the subsequent cross.
The Mali Under-23 side has one game remaining despite that defeat, as they play Guinea in the third-place match on Friday 7 July; 6pm kick-off in Tangier.