HomeFootball NewsAFCON: Mali vs Ivory Coast: Preview, expected line-ups, how to watch and...

AFCON: Mali vs Ivory Coast: Preview, expected line-ups, how to watch and prediction

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The State of Play

Mali put in an excellent performance, both in defence and attack, as they defeated Burkina Faso by two goals to one in their round of 16 tie the other day. The excellent Lassine Sinayoko inspired them to victory after coming through a group with one win, against South Africa, before underwhelming draws against both Tunisia and Mali. They are aiming to reach the semi-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations for the sixth time in their history but they are yet to win the title.

Hosts Ivory Coast have had a very bizarre campaign. They started well with a 2-0 win against Guinea-Bissau before heavy defeats to Senegal and Equatorial Guinea but they managed to sneak through as one of the best third-placed teams; but had already parted company with manager Jean-Louis Gasset before that was confirmed. Caretaker boss Emerse Fae oversaw the Ivorians then, quite remarkably, defeating defending champions Senegal, who had been the only team with a 100% record in the group stages, via a penalty shootout.

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Team News

The most controversial talking point for the Malians in terms of team selection has been the absence of Yves Bissouma from the team. He was an unused substitute the other day, whilst Diadie Samassekou was also surprisingly dropped to the bench. They are expected to remain unchanged.

Emerse Fae made a key change at the back the other day as Bayer Leverkusen defender Odilon Kossounou replaced Willy Boly in the starting line-up. Kossounou was replaced in extra-time but is expected to start. Sebastian Haller is also expected to come back in for Jean-Philippe Krasso and it would be surprising if Franck Kessie starts on the bench again.

Expected Line-ups

Mali: Diarra; H. Traore, Kouyate, Niakate, Sacko; Camara; Coulibaly, Haidara; Doumbia; Sinayoko, A. Traore

Ivory Coast: Fofana; Aurier, Kossounou, Ndicka, Konan; Sangare; Seri, Kessie; S. Fofana; Gradel, Haller

What they Said

In the pre-match build-up, Mali boss Eric Chelle has said his team will ‘bring their quality’. “We know that it will be difficult against them, but we will bring our quality and give it our best against them. I want to emphasise the importance of humility in this victory.”

The aforementioned Emerse Fae was keen to play down the Ivory Coast’s chances of what has been described as a ‘tournament resurrection’ as he insisted his squad were ‘not getting excited’ in the aftermath of their victory over Senegal.

When and How to Watch

This match will be played at Stade de la Paix on Saturday February 3rd at 17:00. It will be shown live on Sky Sports in the UK and can also be streamed via the Sky Go app.

Prediction

This one has the potential to be genuinely entertaining on Saturday afternoon. Mali set themselves about 2022 semi-finalists Burkina Faso the other day and were really dominant in that game for large parts. They will seek to take advantage of an Ivorian side that are being carried through on emotion. Mali should be able to exploit some of the chaos that the Ivory Coast have created and endured in this tournament but the hosts have a lot of talent of their own and both teams scoring seems likely, regardless of who manages to squeeze through.

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.

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