SEKONDI, Ghana (AFP) - Mali edged closer to the last eight of the 2008 African Nations Cup on Friday when they held Nigeria to a goalless draw in a crucial Group B match.
Mali now four points from two matches while Nigeria have one point.
Ivory Coast top the group with six points, and have booked their place in the quarter-finals, while Benin are pointless and bottom.
"We played well but we have not been lucky with scoring. However, we are still in there with a chance. We just have to wait and see what happens in the last round of matches in our group," said Nigeria's man-of-the-match John Mikel Obi.
Nigeria made several changes to the team which started their opening defeat to the Ivory Coast.
Osaze Odemwingie replaced injured Nwankwo Kanu, Obinna Nsofor came in for John Utaka while Obinna Nwaneri was preferred to Onyekachi Apam at right back.
The Eagles started out by delivering long balls behind the Malian defence in search of twin strikers Obafemi Martins and Yakubu Aiyegbeni, who used his size and power to good effect.
The first shot fired in anger was in the 16th minute when Martins rifled home from the top of the box but goalkeeper Mahamadou Sidibe went down well to make a comfortable save. Soon after Yakubu, set up by Odemwingie, also fired a grounder but again Sidibe saved easily.
Mali paraded a top-class midfield that included Mahamadou Diarra, Seydou Keita and Mohammed Sisoko but Chelsea ace Mikel along with Wolves midfielder Seyi Olofinjana held their own in the engine room.
However, Olofinjana will miss Nigeria's next group game against Benin after he was booked for the second time in the competition in the 37th minute for a late tackle on Seydou Keita.
Mali skipper Mahamadou Dirra will also miss his team's next game after a rough tackle on Ikechukwu Uche in the dying minutes of the encounter.
Nigeria started brightly again after the break but it was Mali who threatened to open scoring in the 47th minute when Seydou Keita low shot was pushed away by Austin Ejide for a corner kick.
Encouraged by this Mali piled on the pressure but it was the Super Eagles who came closest to a goal in the 59th minute after Yakubu bundled into goalkeeper Sidibe inside the six-yard box.
On 70 minutes Sidibe was alert to save a long distance Shittu free kick after it took a slight deflection.
Mali's effective use of the offside trap kept the Nigerian attack at bay particularly Yakubu who had an effort in the 79th minute ruled out for offside.
Keita's effort from 20 yards then grazed the crossbar in the 81st minute with Ejide well beaten.
|10||J. Obi Mikel|
|Coach: B. Vogts|
for O. Martins 46'
for P. Odemwingie 58'
for V. Obinna 84'
|Abbiati: Milan going in the wrong direction|
|West Brom suffer Brunt injury blow|
|Simeone warning inspired convincing win, says Filipe Luis|
|Agbonlahor eyeing 40-point mark|
|Beckenbauer concerned by Barca-esque Bayern|
|Rooney keen to captain club and country|
|Copa Libertadores Wrap: Bocanegra´s late show clinches draw for Atletico Nacional|
|CONCACAF Champions League: San Jose Earthquakes 1 Toluca 1|
|Urawa Reds apologise for racist banner|
|MLS Preview: Colorado to open campaign at Red Bulls|
|A-League Preview: Premier´s Plate within reach for Brisbane|
|Bayern Munich question Arsenal´s tactics|
|Bundesliga Preview: Struggling Leverkusen face biggest test|
|League Two Wrap: Torquay shock Rochdale, Chesterfield held|
|League One Wrap: Wolves break club record, Brentford and Orient successful|
|Milan were lacking psychologically, says Seedorf|
|Ozil blow for Arsenal|
|Simeone salutes second-half display|
|Championship Wrap: Reading stun Leeds, Blackpool end barren streak|
|UEFA Champions League: Bayern Munich 1 Arsenal 1 (3-1 agg)|
|UEFA Champions League: Atletico Madrid 4 Milan 1 (5-1 agg)|
|AFC Champions League Wrap: Mariners overcome Sanfrecce, Seoul held|
|Cousillas: City can stun Barca|
|UEFA Europa League Preview: Sevilla v Real Betis|
|Charlton appoint Riga|
|New deal for Heimeroth|
|FA reject Walters appeal|
|Mertens tipped for starring role|
|Aluko getting back to his best|
|UEFA Europa League Preview: Lyon v Viktoria Plzen|
|Grosso takes control of Juve´s youth team|
|Blanc: PSG still playing Euro catch-up|
|Kaboul ban overturned|
|Pardew hit with seven-game ban|
|McCann blow for Wigan|
|Cabaye has no regrets over PSG move|
|Martinez taking no risks with Jagielka|
|I turned down Juve in 2012 - Robben|
|Lambert wants more from Tonev|
|Wanchope: City can beat Barcelona|
|Wanchope: City can beat Barcelona|
|UEFA Europa League Preview: Tottenham v Benfica|
|Remy hungry for World Cup place|
|Martino: We have not been consistent|
|UEFA Europa League Preview: Ludogorets v Valencia|
|Inter unlikely to make moves for Dzeko, Torres|
|American firm acquire United shares|
|Callejon predicting strong Napoli era|
|UEFA Europa League Preview: Juventus v Fiorentina|
|Eto´o hints at Chelsea stay|
|Hughton pleased with Bassong performances|
|Barca treble still on the cards - Alexis|
|Monk: Michu close to Swansea return|
|Solskjaer hoping to inspire Cardiff strikers|
|Toprak: Restoring pride is important|
|UEFA Europa League Preview: AZ v Anzhi|
|Charlton sack Powell after FA Cup exit|
|UEFA Europa League Preview: Basel v Red Bull Salzburg|
|Move on from Diouf blow - Dufner|
|Fonte backs Rodriguez for World Cup|
|Stoke fear extended Huth absence|
|Anichebe calls for West Brom spirit|
|Courtois rubbishes Real rumours|
|Zenit thank sacked Spalletti|
|Manchester City positive ahead of Barcelona trip|
|Martinez hopes for Deulofeu stay|
|Kroos undecided on future|
|CONCACAF Champions League: Alajuelense 0 Arabe Unido 0|
|Argentina Primera Division Wrap: Velez Sarsfield close in on top|
|Paraguay Division Profesional Wrap: Nacional Asuncion into second|
|De Boer planning Ajax stay|
|UEFA Europa League Preview: Porto v Napoli|
|La Liga Wrap: Strugglers Rayo, Malaga pick up valuable away wins|
|Primeira Liga: Maritimo 2 Vitoria Guimaraes 1|
|UEFA Champions League Preview: Paris Saint-Germain v Bayer Leverkusen|
|Turkish Super Lig Wrap: Fenerbahce, Trabzonspor clash abandoned|
|Seedorf upbeat over Milan chances|
|Wenger outlines Arsenal belief|
|Russian Premier League Wrap: Lokomotiv go top, Anzhi post first win|
|UEFA Champions League Preview: Barcelona v Manchester City|
|Castro calls for fans´ support|
|Survival fight wide open, says Mutch|
|Bruce calls for league focus|
|Hoeness admits tax fraud|
|Shea returns to Stoke|
|Van den Brom leaves Anderlecht|
|Stevens ready for Stuttgart challenge|
|Liverpool clash excites Carrick|
|Villa eyeing top-half finish, claims Bertrand|
|Silva happy to remain in Paris|
|Gosling admits FA charge|
|Getafe confirm Contra as new coach|
|Reina considers future America move|
|Giroud: We must believe against Bayern|
|Wolves lodge complaints over alleged racist abuse|
|Gladbach sign Sommer to replace Ter Stegen|
|Getafe part company with Garcia|
|Strootman World Cup hopes in serious doubt|
|Clyne backs Palace to survive|
|Liverpool striving for perfection, says Allen|
|Simeone expecting tough Milan test|
|De Guzman confident ahead of West Brom clash|
|Guardiola wary of Arsenal threat|
|Mel speculation is ´crazy´, says Foster|
|Taarabt not fearing Atletico|
|Mourinho expects to lose Torres for ´couple of weeks´|
|Heitinga: Survival a trophy for Fulham|
|Carvajal plays down injury fears|
|Oxlade-Chamberlain eyes Arsenal cup success|
|Benitez praises Reina, Higuain|
|Shaw focusing on Southampton not England|
|Bayern must be aggressive, says Guardiola|
|Venezuela Primera Division Wrap: Zamora increase advantage with Tachira scalp|
|Uruguay Primera Division Wrap: Nacional capitalise on Fenix fumble|
|Liga MX Wrap: Tigres UANL end Cruz Azul unbeaten run|
|Ecuador Primera A Wrap: Independiente, Loja slip up to send Emelec top|
|Costa Rica Primera Division Wrap: Wins for Herediano, Deportivo Saprissa|
|Liga del Futbol Profesional Boliviano Wrap: Club Universitario open gap|
|Chile Primera Division Wrap: Colo Colo cruise past Union La Calera|
|Benitez: 11th-hour injuries could not halt Napoli|
|La Liga Wrap: Real capitalise on Barca slip-up, Valencia and Bilbao draw|
|Primeira Liga Wrap: Benfica extend lead, Porto close in on Sporting|
|Garcia frustrated by toothless Roma|