LUANDA (AFP) - A farcical mix-up by Africa Cup of Nations' organisers in Angola left Mali fuming when they were locked out of a scheduled training session because the Algeria team had beaten them into the stadium.
Algeria turned up at the Escoqueirus Stadium in Luanda and gained immediate access on Friday afternoon, but waiting reporters were astonished when, a quarter of an hour later, the Mali team bus rounded a corner and parked outside the stadium.
Mali players, including Real Madrid midfielder and national team captain Mahamadou Diarra and 2007 African Footballer of the Year Frederic Kanoute, were made to wait in the coach for over half an hour, before being told they could enter the ground.
But the situation took a bizarre turn when the stadium's security officers refused to let them in as Algeria continued preparing for their final first-round match against Angola on Monday in blissful ignorance inside.
Utter confusion then reigned, as Diarra and some of his fellow team-mates attempted to gain access by clambering through an open window.
Over by the securely locked main gate Kanoute and Mali's Nigerian coach Stephen Keshi attempted to talk their way in, but to no avail.
After over an hour, and as dusk fell, a furious Keshi led his charges back to the team bus to return to their hotel having missed a vital chance to prepare for their last group match against Malawi in Cabinda on Monday.
Keshi, who won the Africa Cup of Nations as a player in the 1990s, told AFP: "I'm fed up. How could this happen, to get the boys in a bus and travel to a ground and be told you can't train? I don't know whose fault it is..."
Barcelona midfielder Seydou Keita was also furious at the shambles, saying defiantly: "They can do what they like, but we're still going to qualify (for the quarter-finals)."
Diarra was so annoyed he refused to make any comment as he joined his team-mates for the hour-long journey back to the hotel to get ready for the flight to Cabinda on Saturday.
The local Africa Cup of Nations organising committee told AFP it was investigating the incident.
Mali, on one point in Group A after a draw with the hosts and a 1-0 loss to Algeria, face a game against Malawi that they must win if they are to have any hope of making it into the last eight.
They are making their sixth appearance in the competition with their highest placing coming in 1972 when they finished runners-up.
This is not the first time a competing team at the 2010 Nations Cup has fallen foul of an organising blunder.
Malawi coach Kinnah Phiri was left fuming when his side were unable to train for two days before Thursday's game against hosts Angola, which they lost 2-0.
"Three times we went onto a pitch but we found that there were others there. They were asked to leave but they refused. We have not trained for two days."
He said he had written a letter of protest to the competition's organisers.
|UEFA Champions League Review: Ajax spurn two-goal lead at 10-man Rapid|
|Sunderland´s struggles continue as Doncaster cruise to win|
|Mahrez and Nugent on target in Leicester win|
|Mitrovic tastes debut defeat for Newcastle|
|Celtic 1 Qarabag 0: Boyata snatches crucial win|
|Jablonec 0 Copenhagen 1: Verbic cracker gives Danes the edge|
|Norwich sign Wisdom on loan from Liverpool|
|UEFA Europa League Preview: Koeman plays down importance of Vitesse links|
|Schneiderlin keen to learn from experienced duo|
|Mandzukic´s maiden Juventus goal seals win in Poland|
|Fofana completes Bastia loan|
|Deila delighted that Gordon pledges future to Celtic|
|Grenier ruled out for four months|
|Rooney: United squad ready for title challenge|
|Messi and Neymar available for start of season|
|Szczesny seals Roma switch|
|Benitez cools Mourinho war of words|
|Filipe Luis vows to win back Atletico fans|
|Besiktas in negotiations over Gomez switch|
|Kishna seals Lazio switch|
|Diaby completes Marseille move|
|Platini is bad for FIFA - Prince Ali|
|Bilic keen to make further additions|
|Brady makes Norwich move|
|Southampton complete Caulker loan|
|Rummenigge feels Muller ´will never leave´ Bayern|
|Platini to stand in FIFA presidential election|
|Howedes to remain Schalke skipper|
|Albion sign Hull defender Chester|
|Lucescu defends Fred selection amid doping allegations|
|Fabregas still in love with Arsenal|
|Luis Enrique ´happy´ with Barca´s US trip|
|Mourinho optimistic over Cahill and Costa|
|River owe Tigres´ Esqueda - Mercado|
|Van Gaal expecting big season from Shaw|
|Begovic keen to challenge Courtois|
|Mourinho launches attack on Benitez|
|CONMEBOL ´knocked on a lot of doors´ to keep half-spot - president|
|America 0 Benfica 0 (3-4 on penalties): Primeira Liga champions finally win|
|Napoli striker Higuain ´untouchable´ - Gabbiadini|
|Arsenal´s friendly form will boost confidence - Wenger|
|Nagatomo-Melo swap possible, says agent|
|Chelsea 2 Barcelona 2 (4-2 on penalties): Courtois stars for Premier League champions|
|Eriksen calls for ruthless Spurs|
|Pulis praises Berahino attitude|
|Alderweireld confident of top-four finish|
|Villa ready for tough Spurs clash|
|West Ham edge win on Carrow Road anniversary|
|Kozak scores twice as Villa draw at Wolves|
|Stanislas brace leads Bournemouth past Yeovil|
|Watford slip to friendly defeat at Cardiff|
|Lukaku injury sours Everton win at Dundee|
|UEFA Champions League Review: Fenerbahce draw blank as Monaco impress|
|West Brom earn friendly win over Walsall|
|Vardy at the double as Leicester beat Burton|
|Atletico impress in win over Oviedo|
|Herrera sacked by Mexico after ´punch´|
|Gerrard, Keane and Bradley pull out of MLS All-Star squad|
|Marseille reach Diaby agreement|
|Sammer thrilled with Vidal´s winning mentality|
|Platini expected to launch FIFA presidency bid|
|Romanov sacked me over Barca snub - Korobochka|
|Villa complete Crespo capture|
|Wolfsberger v Borussia Dortmund: Bender praises ´fun but exhausting´ training|
|Okaka swaps Sampdoria for Anderlecht|
|Southampton v Vitesse: Fonte excited for ´dream´ sojourn into Europe|
|Bournemouth agree King compensation|
|West Ham v Astra: Kouyate confident West Ham can progress|
|Vidal completes Bayern switch, signs four-year deal|
|Fabregas calls for Champions League improvement|
|BREAKING NEWS: Filipe Luis completes Atletico return|
|Bayern to present Vidal|
|Wenger unfazed by Mourinho´s spending jibe|
|Pellegrini: Sterling will justify price tag|
|Cavani hit with two-match Uruguay ban|
|Bonucci to remain at Juve until 2020|
|No bids for Berahino - West Brom|
|Putin: Blatter deserves a Nobel prize|
|Howe: Swansea a benchmark for Bournemouth|
|New Parma to play in Serie D|
|Mata vows to hit the goal trail at United|
|Drogba ´perfect fit´ for Montreal|
|Berahino ´not yet´ ready for Tottenham - Irvine|
|Romero lauds caring Van Gaal|
|Jese flying at Real under Rafa|
|Sampdoria unwilling to pay €10m for Balotelli|
|Mourinho talks up Arsenal title chances|
|Hull sign Ryan Taylor, Sam Clucas|
|Kane, Pochettino hail MLS All-Star test|
|Di Santo sorry for swift Werder departure|