Diallo, who was named the Most Valuable Player of the match, finished off a well-rehearsed free-kick after Souleymane Diarra set him up, with a shot that caught Zambia goalie Mangani Banda off guard.
The Eaglets of Mali were the better side in the game of rare clear cut chances, but managed to convert their major chance to ensure victory.
The game resumed on a high tempo which won’t last long with the Malians taking charge of possession and the Zambians chasing their shadows. On 15 minutes, Lubambo Musonda saw his header from a Charles Zulu pass missed target narrowly in one of the few chances that came the way of the Junior Chipolopolo.
At the other end, Souleymane Diarra was a delight to watch and his partnership with Malick Toure gave the Zambian defence some tough moments. On 17 minutes, Diarra fired a low shot that went wide in his side’s best attempt at goal of the first half.
Midway through the half, Zambia was dealt a major blow as Musonda had to be replaced by Patson Daka after sustaining an injury.
After a barren first half, both teams resumed on a purposeful note with each seeking to break the deadlock. Mali pushed much and during one of such raids upfront, a three-man move involving Diarra, Saliou Guindo and Youssouf Kone saw Diarra being fouled by his marker just outside the penalty.
The resultant will produce the only goal of the match as Kone set up Diallo, who struck a thunderbolt that zoomed past Zambia goalie Banda into the net.
Mali will next play South Africa on Thursday, 12 March 2015 whilst Zambia comes up against Ghana, both at the Caroline Faye Stadium in M’Bour.
Orange Man of the Match
Alassane Diallo (Mali)