Mali kicked off their African Nations Championship (CHAN) campaign with a hard-fought 1-0 win over a tough Burkina Faso side in Cameroon on Saturday.
The Eagles won the West African clash in the Group A match thanks to an amazing 70th-minute header by enterprising left-back Siaka Bagayoko at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in Yaounde.
The defender, who plays for local giants Djoliba but previously featured for CS Sfaxien in Tunisia, settled the tie via an extraordinary long-range header after the Stallions failed to clear a corner.
The victory takes Mali equal on three points with hosts Cameroon who beat Zimbabwe by a similar margin in the opening match of the tournament earlier in the day.
After a well-balanced contest in the first-half with several missed chances, it was Mali who made sure they pinned their opponents to get the goal and defend with a lot of caution.
Burkina Faso’s Soumaila Quattara, Illias Tiendrebeogo and Clement Pitroipa all had their attempts blocked, while Demba Diallo missed the target for Mali in what looked an easy chance to finish.
The deadlock was broken when Issaka Samake’s corner was headed from behind the box by Bagayoko leaving Burkina Faso’s goalkeeper Babayoure Aboubacar Sawadogo stuck to the ground.