Sambou Yabatare looked to have secured all three points in the Africa Cup of Nations clash, but the New York Red Bulls defender’s finish ensured a share of the spoils.
With many of the players from a dreadful World Cup campaign left out of the squad, Volker Finke’s men entered the tournament as one of the favorites to win the trophy in Equatorial Guinea.
But Cameroon looked destined for defeat when it fell behind to a Mali side that has reached the semifinals of the AFCON in each of the past two tournaments.
It was midfielder Sambou Yatabare who put Mali ahead in the 71st minute by converting a free kick from captain Seydou Keita.
Henryk Kasperczak’s men were unable to protect their advantage, though, as right back Oyongo proved to be the savior for Cameroon when he slipped into the penalty area to equalize six minutes from time.
The result leaves all the teams in Group D level on one point following Cote d’Ivoire’s 1-1 draw with Cameroon.
Mali came close to opening the scoring in the 10th minute when Bakary Sako’s close-range effort was turned past the post by Fabrice Ondoa. The Wolves midfielder then saw a far-post cross headed wide by Mustapha Yatabare with the goal at the striker’s mercy.
Cameroon was dealt a blow when midfielder Eyong Enoh limped off 17 minutes in and was replaced by Franck Kom, but Finke’s men would have taken the lead had Soumbeila Diakite not tipped Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting’s powerful header over the crossbar.
It was Mali that continued to create the better openings, but its lack of a cutting edge ensured the first half ended scoreless.
Following the restart, Cameroon began to gain more of a foothold in the game, but chances were few and far between for the four times champion.
Aurelien Chedjou curled a free kick over the bar from the edge of the area before Benjamin Moukandjo fired wide from a tight angle.
And it was Mali that opened the scoring courtesy of a Sambou Yatabare’s strike. The on-loan Guingamp man controlled the ball with the chest after Keita’s set piece from the left wing had been flicked into his path by Molla Wague and he brought it down to power home a vicious half-volley low into the net.
That effort appeared to have ensured all three points for a Mali side that had defended well for much of the encounter. But there was to be one last twist in the tale as Oyongo raced into the box to collect a Raoul Loe ball over the top and held his nerve to apply the finish.
Sambou Yatabare appeared to have won it for Mali in injury time with a diving header, only for his effort to be correctly ruled out for offside.