Home » AFCON 2023: Host in search of last four ticket against Mali, preview, team news, possible starting XI

AFCON 2023: Host in search of last four ticket against Mali, preview, team news, possible starting XI

by Lesley Ngwa
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Mali takes on Africa Cup of Nations hosts Cote D’Ivoire at Stade de la Paix on Saturday February 3, 2024, keen to progress into semi-finals.

The Eagles of Mali saw off Burkina Faso in the round of 16, while the home side got the better of the holders Senegal in Yamoussoukro.

Match preview

One record will tumble on Saturday, but Mali hope it is not theirs as they are keen to make the semi-finals of AFCON 2023, having never lost a quarter-final tie before.

While the Eagles always made it past the last eight at the Cup of Nations when it was a 16-team tournament, this is the first time since the competition’s expansion that the West African nation have made it this far after exiting at the round of 16 in 2019 and 2021.

Eric Chelle’s men seek to continue that impressive run at the tournament, with the bracket opening up after Senegal’s shock elimination at the hands of Cote D’Ivoire, who hold a stranglehold in this West African rivalry.

Mali have never defeated the Elephants at AFCON, losing four times and drawing once, possibly making them underdogs in Bouake against the host nation.

The Eagles hope for as bright a start as they made in the previous round against Burkina Faso, scoring after three minutes and adding to their advantage just after half time in the 2#1 success.

Motivated by the response to falling behind against Senegal, the host nation pinned the Teranga Lions back for the final half-hour of the 90, aided by the introductions of Sebastien Haller, Simon Adingra and especially Nicolas Pepe.

The latter won the penalty converted by Franck Kessie in the closing minutes, and the Elephants were superior in the eventual shootout that decided the game.

It remains to be seen if Emerse Fae’s troops pick up where they left off in the round of 16, but another slow start could be fatal against the only side yet to fall behind in the finals.

With the Eagles undefeated at the Cup of Nations and not prone to giving up leads, the Elephants aim to be beneficiaries of the home support and their impressive record against Mali, seeking to make the competition’s final four for the first time since they won it in 2015.

It would fascinate observers and even the home support, who relied on other results to be assured of qualification as one of the best third-placed sides.

Team News

Apart from own goals (Edmond Tapsoba scored at the wrong end in Mali’s win over Burkina Faso), Lassine Sinayoko has netted three of the Eagles’ four goals at the finals, making him their undoubted threat.

Amadou Haidara is doubtful after going off injured against the Stallions, and the RB Leipzig man may not add to his three starts in the competition against the host nation.

Tottenham Hotspur man Yves Bissouma has been in and out of the side, starting 50% of Mali’s four games, and the midfield man’s participation is uncertain.

Cote D’Ivoire have been patient with Haller and Adingra leading up to the last eight, but Fae could start the pair in Saturday’s clash.

Ibrahim Sangare and Odilon Kossounou are touch-and-go for the quarter-final meeting after seemingly sustaining injuries against Senegal.

Mali possible starting line-up

Diarra; H. Traore, Kouyate, Niakate, Sacko; Coulibaly, Bissouma, Camara; Doumbia; A. Traore, Sinayoko

Cote D’Ivoire possible starting line-up

Fofana; Aurier, Kossounou, Ndicka, Konan; Seri, Kessie; Pepe, Fofana, Adingra; Haller

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