Mali captain Seydou Keita delivered the first win of the Africa Cup of Nations under way in South Africa.
The former Barcelona midfielder benefited from a Niger defence mix-up late in the second half to shoot Mali to the top of the standings in Group B.
It was rewarding for veteran striker Keita to net the winning strike as the China-based player had probed the Niger defence from all angles for the better part of the match.
Given the fireworks that Ghana and DR Congo produced in the opening fixture of this group, the Mali and Niger clash offered not much in terms of creativity but three points was vital for Mali, who face Ghana on Thursday.
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