Ousmane Coulibaly equalized with seven minutes remaining as Mali came from two goals to draw 3-3 with Angola on Monday in a thrilling African Nations Championship (CHAN) in Algeria.
When Deivi ‘Gilberto’ Vieira gave the Angolans a two-goal lead in the 72nd minute, his team looked poised to win the Group D opener at the Olympic Stadium in the chilly western city of Oran.
But Yoro Diaby headed a corner into the net six minutes later and substitute Coulibaly pushed a loose ball past goalkeeper Hugo Marques to complete a dramatic comeback.
Laurindo ‘Depu’ Aurelio had twice put Angola ahead in the first half with 36-year-old Hamidou Sinayoko scoring in the middle for Mali.
After just five goals in the first five mini-league games at three other venues, the goal party enthused a small crowd on a winter’s night in the 40,000-seat stadium.
Mali and Angola have come close to winning a unique national team tournament as it is restricted to footballers who play for clubs from their country of birth.
Angola finished runners-up to Tunisia in 2011 and Mali lost the 2016 final to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and was beaten by Morocco in the 2020 final.
After the drama of the opening game in a doubleheader, Cameroon defeated Congo Brazzaville 1-0 in Group E in a much less exciting Central African showdown.
Cameroon, who came in fourth as hosts last year, always looked likely to win, but needed 63 minutes to break a tie against stubborn opponents.
As the ball entered the mouth of the goal, Jerome Mbekeli lunged forward and his perfectly placed, powerful header gave goalkeeper Pavelh Ndzila no chance.
Substitute Mbekeli assisted Vincent Aboubakar’s only goal as Cameroon stunned Brazil in a World Cup 2022 group stage match in Qatar last month.