Mali ruffle Super Eagles’ feathers in battling cup draw

NIGERIA’S Africa Cup of Nations’ fate is now in the hands of their Group B rivals after the Super Eagles could only draw 0-0 with Mali in Sekondi.

Berti Vogts’ team will have to beat eliminated Benin in their final match on Tuesday, and hope that Mali slip-up.

Nigeria’s Everton striker Yakubu Aiyegbeni had a goal ruled out for offside after 75 minutes, in a match that was full of tension.

Sevilla’s Fredi Kanoute fluffed Mali’s best chance in injury time, hitting over from inside the area.

Meanwhile, an Ivory Coast team packed with Premier League talent thrashed Benin 4-1 to all but seal their place in the quarter-finals.

Chelsea striker Didier Drogba finished coolly five minutes before half-time to begin the rout and Yaya Toure, of Barcelona, then made it two in the 43rd minute following a fine dribble by his brother Kolo, the Arsenal defender.

Abdelkader Keita (52) scored a third, Aruna Dindane (62) a fourth and Razak Omotoyossi headed a fine last-minute consolation for the minnows.

Also yesterday, former Ghana international and tournament official Anthony Baffoe stated he does not believe the tournament has been targeted by match fixers.

Benin coach Reinhard Fabisch claimed yesterday that he was asked to manipulate the result of his side’s opening match against Mali earlier this week.

The German revealed he was approached by an unknown African man at Benin’s team hotel in Sekondi on Saturday, two days prior to the game with Mali, which Benin lost 1-0.

The man was given short shrift by Fabisch, but the Confederation of African Football (CAF) is set to launch an investigation.

And Baffoe, now director for international relations at the tournament’s Local Organising Committee (LOC) said he was disturbed by Fabisch’s revelations.

“I’ve heard the reports, but I’m not sure of the situation,” he said yesterday.

“To be honest I’ve never heard of something like this happening.”

Baffoe added match-fixing was “something common in Africa”, but insisted that the competition, being staged in his homeland this year, would be an unlikely arena for scandal.

“I don’t believe that in such a tournament — a major African competition with all professional teams and players — something like this can take place,” he claimed.

“The level of competition is really high and you can see from the quality of play so far that players are trying.

“If I was a player, why would I want to throw the game?

“In this year’s African Nations Cup, players are looking to impress big clubs so they can perhaps earn a big move, more so the lesser teams.”

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