Mali coach Patrice Carteron says that patience was the key to beating South Africa in the Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinals on Saturday.

The Eagles, led by penalty shoot-out hero Soumbeila Diakite, overcame Bafana Bafana 3-1 on spot kicks with the goalkeeper saving twice from Dean Furman and May Mahlangu.

Lehlohonolo Majoro also missed a penalty for the hosts in front of a capacity 50 000 crowd at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, where Cheick Diabate, Adama Tamboura and Mahamane Traore all scored.

"It was an extremely tough match," Carteron said.

"The South Africans posed a lot of problems in the first half and we had to change the tactics in the second half to get back into the match.

"They pressed us with a lot of energy and pace. But we knew we had to be patient and we had time to fight back."

"The South African team was very hard on us," said Carteron.

They played a fast-paced game and as a result, like we did against Democratic Republic of Congo (in the final group game), we conceded an

early goal.

"We lost a player (Samba Diakite) early on through injury and that did not help us offensively during the game.

"But I'm happy with the fighting spirit of the players and their ability to come back and progress into the next stage."

The Malians, the third ranked team in Africa, will now play either the No 1 side Ivory Coast or Nigeria in the last four.

Carteron's team have now managed to reach the semifinals in six out of the eight finals they have qualified for.

The French coach played down the anticipation levels in his country, saying instead they that will soak in the moment before beginning preparations for the next game.

" The task was very difficult and the expectations were very high," he said.

"We always play to win.

"What is coming in this competition we don't know, but what we know is that we are going to the semifinals.

"From there, we will dream."