Mali eye robust AFCON displaying


JOHANNESBURG:

Brighton midfielder Yves Bissouma has made peace with Mali coach Mohamed Magassouba and is about to be a driving power behind the bid to go far on the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon from Sunday.

He fell out of favour in 2018 and a shoulder harm prevented him from being thought of for the 2019 Cup of Nations in Egypt, the place Mali made a disappointing last-16 exit.

While it will be stretching optimism to consider Mali can go all the way in which, they appear sure to safe a top-two end in a bit together with one-time champions Tunisia, minnows Mauritania, and debutants the Gambia.

Here, AFP Sport places the highlight on the 4 Group F contenders. The group winners and runners-up are assured of last-16 locations whereas the most effective 4 third-placed groups from the six sections additionally qualify.

Mali has frequently punched above their weight, ending second, third twice, and fourth thrice in 11 appearances on the African soccer showpiece.

While not among the many favourites in Cameroon, a squad together with Bissouma and Southampton ahead Moussa Djenepo from the Premier League are actually able to reaching the quarter-finals.

In a lot of the six teams ending first carries an enormous benefit because the table-toppers then face a third-placed crew within the spherical of 16.

Group F is completely different. The winners will possible face title-holders Algeria or the Ivory Coast whereas the runners-up would have a theoretically simpler activity towards the Group B runners-up, probably Guinea.

The Carthage Eagles hope a irritating begin to preparations is just not an indication of issues to return because the floodlights went out simply minutes right into a coaching session near Tunis and didn’t come again on.

Tunisia is an extremely constant crew as they’ve now certified for an unequalled 15 consecutive Cup of Nations tournaments from 1994.

During that point the North Africans have been champions as soon as, runners-up as soon as, semi-finalists twice and quarter-finalists six occasions.

Having reached the semi-finals in Egypt three years in the past, the expectations of supporters can be {that a} crew captained by Saint-Etienne ahead Wahbi Khazri will go at the very least as far in Cameroon.

After reaching the Cup of Nations finals for the primary time in 2019 after which qualifying for back-to-back appearances, the fortunes of Mauritania nosedived.

Expected to be aggressive lately in a World Cup group together with Tunisia, Equatorial Guinea, and Zambia, they fared woefully, accumulating simply two factors from a attainable 18 and ending final.

French coach Corentin Martins, who had been in cost since 2014, was fired and compatriot Gerard Buscher, elevated from his technical director function, didn’t final lengthy after a poor Arab Cup displaying.

Another Frenchman, Didier Gomes Da Rosa, has taken over and can do properly to plot a victory over the Gambia and safe attainable qualification as among the best 4 third-placed finishers.

The Gambia, who started the 2021 Cup of Nations qualifying competitors as the one west African nation by no means to reach the finals, have lastly made it with Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet getting a lot of the credit score.

They wanted a penalty shootout to oust minnows Djibouti in a preliminary tie, then topped a bunch together with fellow qualifiers Gabon, shock flops the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola.

“Tom brought discipline and structure to our game,” says captain Pa Modou Jagne, a veteran defender who performs within the Swiss decrease leagues.

A coronavirus outbreak at a coaching camp in Qatar has wreaked havoc with preparations, forcing the Scorpions to cancel warm-up matches towards Cup of Nations title-holders Algeria and Syria.

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