Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu's goal early in the second half had put Africa Cup of Nations runners-up Ghana on course for a deserved victory at Stade Sebastien Charlety.
But Wolves winger Sako struck from the spot 19 minutes from time after Richmond Boakye hauled down Molla Wague to ensure Mali avoided defeat.
Giresse officially starts his second spell in charge of Mali on Wednesday and was given plenty to ponder, as Ghana had much the better of the game but were wasteful in front of goal.
Avram Grant must have wondered how his side failed to secure victory as he prepares for the start of AFCON qualification in June.
Agyemang-Badu was included in the Ghana starting line-up as one of six changes to the side that lost 2-1 to Senegal on Saturday and the Udinese midfielder spurned an early chance to open the scoring when he fired over the crossbar at the back post.
The tricky Christian Atsu also lacked composure when he blazed off target after 17 minutes in an encouraging start for the Black Stars.
Mali had not looked a threat going forward until Sambou Yatabare unleashed a fine left-foot strike that beat Fatau Dauda but rattled the crossbar after 27 minutes.
It was Ghana who continued to have the upper hand, though, and Atsu was presented with another chance when the ball arrived at his feet in the penalty area, but once again the on-loan Everton winger failed to hit the target three minutes before half-time.
Ghana continued where they left off after the break and they were in front only seven minutes into the second half, with a goal that had been coming.
Boakye was the architect, picking out Agyemang-Badu with a clever pass with the outside of his boot and the midfielder nipped in front of goalkeeper Soumbeila Diakite before prodding into the empty net.
Diakite's evening was cut short midway through the second half when he bravely raced out to deny Boakye, but was injured in the process.
And Mali were level after 71 minutes against the run of play, when Boakye brought down Wague from a corner and Sako finished from 10 yards with a cheeky chipped spot-kick down the middle.
Boakye could have made amends when he raced clear following a dreadful defensive error, but his finish came back off the post and Mali snatched a draw.
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