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Drama as Ivory Coast, South Africa reach AFCON semis

EPA PHOTO

There has been no shortage of drama as the two remaining semi-finalists were decided at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Hosts Ivory Coast continued their remarkable run, having limped into the knockout stage as one of the four best third-placed finishers - despite a 4-0 loss to tiny Equatorial Guinea.

They resurrected their hopes by edging holders Senegal on post-match penalties in the last 16 and on Saturday needed a stoppage-time winner from Oumar Diakite to beat Mali 2-1 and take their place in the last four.

In the day's other quarter-final, goalkeeper Ronwen Williams saved four shoot-out penalties as South Africa advanced past tiny Cape Verde 2-1 after a 0-0 extra-time draw.

Having played with 10 men for the entire second half and extra time, Ivory Coast finished the match with nine players after Diakite was booked for excessive celebrations amid scenes of unbridled joy among nearly 40,000 fans in the Stadium of Peace in Bouake.

Ivory Coast had been heading for a disappointing exit after Mali substitute Nene Dorgeles broke the deadlock with a brilliant strike from distance in the 71st minute.

Simon Adingra had equalised with the hosts' first shot on target in the 90th minute to send the match to extra time, and Diakite - who will miss Wednesday's semi-final against Congo - completed a thrilling comeback by scoring in what was the 122nd minute of the game.

"If it continues like this, we can do nice things," Diakite said, referring to another remarkable recovery from his side.

There was a chaotic start to the penalty shoot-out between South Africa and Cape Verde.

Hero goalkeeper Williams saved Cape Verde's first three spot kicks, while Zakhele Lepasa hit the crossbar with South Africa's second and Blue Sharks keeper Vozinha saved Aubrey Modiba's effort from the third.

Bryan Teixeira then scored for Cape Verde to level the shoot-out at 1-1, but Mothobi Mvala scored the next for South Africa before Williams sealed the Bafana Bafana's win by saving Patrick Andrade's effort.

South Africa will play Nigeria on Wednesday in their first AFCON semi-final match for 24 years.

- with Reuters