Hamari Traore and Lassine Sinayoko scored as Mali defeated South Africa in their Africa Cup of Nations opening.

In a first half marked by wasted opportunities, Bafana Bafana’s Percy Tau blasted a penalty over the crossbar.

The sequence continued until Traore touched in the rebound after Sekou Koita’s free kick struck the woodwork.

Sinayoko took advantage of Kamory Doumbia’s pass to fire the second from inside the box six minutes later, securing victory for the 1972 finalists.

Mali has won all three Afcon games against South Africa, defeating them in 2002 and 2013.

Mali are top of Group E ahead of Namibia, who earlier stunned Tunisia with a 1-0 victory for their first ever Afcon victory.

South Africa started in promising fashion and caused Mali early problems with their pace, winning a penalty in the 18th minute after Sikou Niakate was adjudged to have fouled Evidence Makgopa in the box following a VAR check by referee Mohamed Hussein.

Al Ahly forward Tau – the reigning Confederation of African Football (Caf) Interclub Player of the Year – ballooned his effort over and blazed another shot behind less than 10 minutes later.

A lack of attacking finesse let South Africa down, Mali goalkeeper Djigul Diarra denying them with routine saves.Mali were nearly gifted a goal on the stroke of half-time when a lapse of concentration at the back by South Africa allowed Sinayoko through on goal, but Ronwen Williams was alert to the danger and came off his line to nudge the ball away.

With South Africa showing signs of tiredness, Mali completely dominated the second half against disjointed-looking opponents who struggled to create chances.

Teboho Mokoena went closest for the 1996 champions with a last-minute free-kick from distance which smashed against a post.

Mali, who are ranked 51st and tipped as Afcon dark horses, are back in action against Tunisia on Saturday (20:00 GMT)

Broos’ players will take on southern African neighbours Namibia, who have 10 players in their squad playing for clubs in South Africa, on Sunday (20:00 GMT).



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