Mali 1 Benin 0: Kanouté gives Mali opening spoils from penalty spot

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The Independent Football

Frédéric Kanouté scored a penalty in the 48th minute to help Mali beat Benin in Group B last night. The South African referee Damon Jerome pointed to the spot immediately after Dramane Traoré was fouled in the area by Alain Gaspoz, and Kanouté converted.

Seidah Tchomogo had had a chance to put Benin ahead in the 14th minute but his glancing header from the edge of the box went wide.

"It was quite tough on the pitch," Kanouté said. "Benin worked hard today and the most important thing is that we won."

The match was delayed by 10 minutes because of a power failure at Sekondi's newly renovated stadium.

The West African teams played in the same qualifying group, which Mali won and in which Benin finished second one point behind.

Liverpool's Momo Sissoko played no part in the game as Mali's French coach Jean-François Jodar opted for a three-man midfield consisting of Real Madrid's Mahamadou Diarra, Seville's Seydou Keita and Bassala Touré.

Mali: Mahamadou Sidibe; Coulibaly, Diamoutene, Diarra, Keita, Touré (Diakite, 72), A Sidibe, D Traoré (Mamady Sidibe, 55; S Traoré, 89), Kante, Dembele, Kanouté.

Benin: Chitou; Gaspoz, Adenon, Chrysostome, Oketola (Sessegnon, 53), Boco, Adjamossi, S Tchomogo, Ahoueya (Oladipikpo, 82), Omotoyossi, O Tchomogo (Maiga, 70).

Referee: D Jerome (South Africa).