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Africa Cup of Nations

Afcon 2021: Mali protest against 'questionable' officiating after loss to Equatorial Guinea

11:50 PM IST 27/01/22
Mali players at Afcon 2021
The Eagles were knocked out of the competition via penalties on Wednesday night

Mali have expressed their frustration to the Confederation of African Football following their elimination from the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

Mohamed Magassouba's side was defeated 6-5 on penalties by Equatorial Guinea in Wednesday's round of 16 encounter.

Both teams failed to score a goal within 120 minutes and the Malian Football Federation has addressed an open letter to the Afcon 2021 Organising Committee to complain about the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).

They believe the video technology manipulated the outcome of the game at the Limbe Stadium which saw them deprived of a penalty on two occasions.

Earlier in the first half, referee Bakary Papa Gassama awarded a penalty in favour of the Eagles after Moussa Doumbia's fall but it was rescinded after Gassama approached the VAR to check the replay.

Mali, however, congratulated Equatorial Guinea for their progress and they accepted the result in good faith.

"Unfortunately, we find with much regret that the VAR is often involved in actions that can decide the final outcome of a match,” read a letter on Mali FA’s Facebook page.

“During the Last 16 game which put Mali against Equatorial Guinea last night in Limbe, the VAR cancelled a penalty given to Mali by the referee of the match in the box, although VAR remained silent on the case of the blatant and visible handball by the Equatoguinean player in the box.

“Mali accept our defeat with fair play and congratulate Equatorial Guinea for their qualification to the quarter-finals, but we are officially protesting against this act which appears too questionable.”

Mali are yet to win the Afcon title in their history and their best finish was as runners-up behind Congo at the 1972 edition.

The Eagles will now turn their focus to the 2022 Fifa World Cup play-off fixture against Tunisia in March as they hope to make their maiden appearance in the global showpiece later this year.