Angola and Algeria both advanced to the quarter-finals of the tournament thanks to a goalless draw in Luanda yesterday. Third-placed Mali missed out despite finishing with a better goal difference than Algeria courtesy of a 3-1 victory over Malawi in the other Group A match.
Mali's striker Mamadou Bagayoko was not pleased the head-to-head record (they lost 1-0 to Algeria) decided his country's fate. "This is really disappointing," he said. "They changed the rules this year and we are out despite finishing ahead of Algeria [on goal difference]. It's a pity because we have a really talented bunch of players."
The hosts Angola went into the match top of the pool and knowing that a draw would be enough to guarantee their progress. However, their approach remained positive as Gilberto and Jose Alberto both tried their luck from long range early on.
Algeria should have been ahead midway through the half, though, after Nadir Belhadj's free-kick caught out the Angola defence. Hassan Yebda failed to make contact with an overhead kick but the ball fell to Madjid Bougherra five yards out. However, he could not beat goalkeeper Carlos.
In the 26th minute, a superb free-kick from Angola's Ze Kalanga was heading for the top corner until Faouzi Chaouchi pulled off an equally brilliant save. Algeria began the second half on the offensive and Karim Matmour just failed to get a touch on Hameur Bouazza's low cross, but the pace of the game then began to drop.
The only moment of alarm for Algeria came with four minutes to go when Jamuana's free-kick almost squirmed under Chaouchi.
Match guide: Fixtures
*Burkina Faso v Ghana
Group B, 4pm (Eurosport) Ghana manager Milovan Rajevac is without midfielder Michael Essien as the Black Stars seek the victory that will see them join Ivory Coast in qualifying for the last eight. Any other result would see today's opponents, Burkina Faso, go through. "My team has the ability to put in a good performance," Stallions coach Paulo Duarte said.