DURBAN, South Africa (Reuters) - Mali will have their penalty saving hero Soumbeyla Diakite back in goal for their African Nations Cup quarter-final against South Africa on Saturday in a change enforced by suspension.
Diakite returns to goal a year after his saves helped Mali beat co-hosts Gabon on penalties at the same stage of the last Nations Cup.
The suspension of first choice Mamadou Samassa, who has a one-match ban after collecting two cautions in the group phase, gives Diakite the possibility of repeating his heroics should Saturday’s quarter-final at the Moses Mabhida Stadium go to spot kicks.
Diakite has earned a reputation as a penalty expert.
His save from Gabon’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang dashed home hopes in Libreville at the 2012 finals and similar saves were instrumental in his club Stade Malien winning the 2009 African Confederation Cup.
Samassa, a former France junior international, only declared his international allegiance to Mali in September when he made his debut in the qualifiers.
“I think Samassa is the best goalkeeper at this tournament but at least Diakite brings something special with him to the team,” said Mali coach Patrice Carteron, who added he might yet tinker with a settled side from the last two matches depending on training on Saturday morning.
“I haven’t yet decided on my starting lineup,” he told reporters on Friday.
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