The Eagles were tied at 1-1 with South Africa after extra-time in the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations before using their experience and big-match temperament to coast through the shootout.
MATCH REPORT: South Africa crash out to Mali
Sissoko admitted his teammates were troubled by Bafana’s start – and the home support – but they were confident in their ability to finish strongly.
“All you could hear is the vuvuzelas and everyone wanted South Africa to go through, so you play not just the team, but the fans also. It was a very tough game for us, South Africa were very good and they played well,” he said.
When asked what coach Patrice Carteron had told Mali at half-time, after they had been completely dominated by Bafana in the opening 45 minutes and went a goal behind thanks to a Tokelo Rantie strike, Sissoko added: “He told us to just stay calm, to continue what we were doing and push a little bit harder because South Africa would get tired. He told us to use our experience.”
Sissoko singled out Dean Furman, Reneilwe Letsholonyane and May Mahlangu for special praise. “The midfield was very good; they had lots of energy and made us work. South Africa are a good team with good supporters, so we are happy to go through.”
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Mali will face the winner of the quarter-final clash between Nigeria and Ivory Coast in the last-four tie at Moses Mabhida on Wednesday.