A poor Nigerian side lost 2-1 to Mali in their opening 2014 CHAN game in Cape Town on Saturday.
In the first half, Nigeria struggled in defence and they did not create many goal scoring chances, while Mali were assured at the back and looked dangerous when they surged forward.
Nigeria improved after the interval, but Mali held out for their first victory at full international level against their fellow West Africans.
Mali took the lead in the 17th minute through Abdoulaye Sissoko, who dashed into the Nigeria box, fired at goal and his shot was helped on by a deflection by Azubuike Egwuekwe.
Mali doubled their lead on 50 minutes, when Adama Traore sweetly struck home from a tight angle through goalkeeper Chigozie Agbim’s legs.
Substitute Gbolahan Salami pulled a goal back for Nigeria off a free kick in the 54th minute.
Mali were quicker to settle into the game and even had a goal-bound effort cleared off the line as Nigeria were slow to get off the starting block.
In the 20th minute, Lassana Diarra just failed to get his foot to a through ball as the Nigeria defence was again ripped open.
Moments later, goalkeeper Agbim had to scramble another goal-bound effort for a corner as Mali continued to pile on the pressure.
Agbim again had to come to the Eagles rescue in the 25th minute, when Diarra let fly from distance.
On half hour, Kwambe blasted at goal but goalkeeper Diakite managed to tip it for a corner.
Mali again came close in the 46th minute, when Uzochukwu cleared from the line after Agbim had fumbled a corner.
On the hour mark, Mali tall target man Sidibe failed to tuck away with only Agbim to beat right inside the six-yard box.
In the 67th minute, Uzoenyi’s effort from inside the goal area crashed against the post.
Two minutes, Agbim did well to smother another goal-bound shot by Mali.
But for poor finishing, Mali had chances to kill off this game as pegged their opponents mainly in their own half of the pitch.
On 84 minutes, a penalty appeal by Francis Benjamin was overlooked by the referee as Nigeria became increasingly desperate for an equaliser.
Watch video of the goals below:
Abdul-wahid Sissoko Goal ~ Mali vs Nigeria 1-0
Traore Goal ~ Mali vs Nigeria 2-0