Result: Mali scrape past Niger

Mali open their Africa Cup of Nations Group B campaign with a narrow 1-0 win over Niger in Port Elizabeth.

Mali have opened their Africa Cup of Nations Group B campaign with a narrow 1-0 win over Niger in Port Elizabeth.

Seydou Keita's late goal has sent the Eagles to the top of the standings following Ghana's 2-2 draw with DR Congo earlier on Sunday.

Mali skipper Seydou Keita celebrates his goal as teammates follow, after a strike against Niger on January 20, 2013© AP Photos

Mali were dominant in the first half, but Cheick Diabate, Keita and Mahamadou Diarra were all wasteful with their chances.

Keita came close to breaking the deadlock 10 minutes after the restart, only for Niger goalkeeper Kassaly Daouda to deny the captain.

Niger rarely threatened, but they nearly nicked the three points in the final 15 minutes when Maazou headed over from a corner.

Mali came close to snatching a winner with 10 minutes left to play as Keita's strike crashed against the crossbar.

However, the midfielder finally made the breakthrough in the 85th minute when he took advantage of a fumble by Douada to fire in.

Seydou Keita
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