Teenage midfielder makes an impact in win over Niger.
- Brahima Diarra makes his first start for Mali U23s
- Nation progresses to U23 AFCON semi-finals
- Diarra could earn fifth cap vs Morocco on Tuesday
Town midfielder Brahima Diarra helped Mali’s Under-23 side progress to the semi-finals of their Africa Cup of Nations tournament on Saturday night in what was his first start for his country!
The 19-year-old earned his fourth cap for his country against Niger in their final Group B game, but it was his first start at this level.
He made an impact in the game, playing a significant role in the opening goal. Diarra took off on one of his trademark forward runs in the 47th minute, surging past three defenders as he entered the Niger penalty area. He went down under a challenge and when a teammate picked up the ball, he was felled – and the penalty was converted.
Brahima was withdrawn on the hour mark and his Mali teammates finished the job with a second in added time, ensuring qualification for the knockout stages of the Under-23 competition for the first time in the country’s history.
Mali finished Group B with six points from three games, just behind top placed reigning champions Egypt. They now face hosts Morocco in the semi-final on Tuesday 4 July in a 9pm kick-off in Rabat.