Guinea and Mali draw to ensure lots will decide qualification
The final place in the African Nations Cup quarterfinals will remarkably be decided by the drawing of lots after Guinea and Mali fought out a 1-1 draw.
Both teams have played out 1-1 draws in their previous Group D matches, meaning lots will be required to decide who finishes second and will face Ghana.
It is a remarkable set of circumstances and one not seen at the African Nations Cup since 1988, when the drawing of lots sent Algeria through to the knockout stage at the expense of the Ivory Coast.
Bizarrely, the draw will not be made immediately but at a meeting of the Confederation of African Football officials on Thursday.
The circumstances arose after neither Guinea and Mali were able to find a winner in a match which the latter ended on top.
The Eagles also began well and would have gone ahead inside five minutes was it not for Issiaga Sylla, whose timely block prevented Abdoulay Diaby's goalbound strike finding the target.
Mustapha Yatabare punched the turf in anger soon after when referee Med Said Kordi ruled he had not been shoved in the box by Fode Camara -- frustration compounded when Guinea were awarded a spot-kick moments later.
A strike by Ibrahima Traore, so impressive in Equatorial Guinea, was rightly adjudged to have been handled, allowing Kevin Constant to score the penalty with a cheeky panenka.
Rather than wilt after the 15th minute opener, though, Henryk Kasperczak's side attacked and had a penalty of their own within a minute due to handball.
Seydou Keita, the most-capped player in Mali's history, stepped after a delay but failed to beat goalkeeper Naby-Moussa Yattara with a tame spot-kick.
It was a missed opportunity the Eagles attempted to put behind them as Modibo Maiga attempted his luck from distance, forcing a fine save from Yattara, with a Naby Keita effort bobbling harmlessly into the goalkeeper's gloves at the other end.
There was an awkward pause before the second half as the referee waited to get the nod that the other Group D had started and, once started, it took just 84 seconds for Mali to get a deserved leveller.
Abdoulay Diaby sent in a wonderful, lofted cross to the far post and Maiga headed home impressively.
It was the start of a Mali onslaught as they unleashed barrage after barrage of second-half attacks.
Guinea, who saw key man Traore go off injured, were fortunate not be punished by a header from the unmarked Molla Wague and then Keita saw a free-kick blocked.
The bobbly pitch and poor challenges saw the game end in a whimper, meaning lots will be required to decide these teams' fate.