Cameroon, Mali exchange fireworks in Group D

Keita 1CAMEROON and Mali are set to meet in an interesting 2015 CAF African Cup of Nations, Group D opener at the Estadio de Malabo in Equatorial Guinea tonight.

Kick-off is at 7.pm (GMT).

Both sides will aim for three points to launch their campaign for glory in the 30th edition of the continental showpiece. In their previous meetings, both sides have already met twice at the Afcon. Their first meeting was in 1972 which ended with a 1-1 draw while Cameroon defeated Mali 3-0 in the semifinal of the 2002 edition.

Although the captain, Ste-phane Mbia, will miss the opening tie due to suspension after receiving a red card against Ivory Coast during the final match of the qualifiers, he said it’s important they get ready for the tournament.

The Indomitable Lions are in one of the toughest groups, however, one would say the only threat is the Ivory Coast team which could dampen their progress beyond the group stages.

Volker Finke’s rejuvenated team has also been touted as favourites to do well in this continental tournament and Mbia has also heaped praise on the German tactician.

“The Cameroon team is in a rebuilding stage, but we need to be well prepared for this 2015 Afcon finals which is very important for our country and for us players,” said Mbia.

“We are also here to prepare for the 2019 Afcon that will take place at home.

“He (Finke) has been able to impose his decisions and discipline which will be our strength in the coming years.

We are all pulling in the same direction and if you have teammates who are all prepared to work for each other – I think that shows what the mood within the squad is like.”

Looking at the Malian camp, their last match to finalise their preparations was disappointing as they were walloped by South Africa by 3-0.

However, that is all in the past now and they aim is to start well.

The Eagles finished in third place in 2012 and 2013 tournaments and will be hoping to source inspiration from the captain, Seydou Keita.

The Serie A based player with Roma will be making his 100th appearance for the national side, a feat that makes him the first player to reach such a milestone.

Nevertheless, coach Henryk Kasperczak said the opening game is always very important to build up confidence for the rest of the competition.

“Cameroon are experiencing a transition phase with a new generation of players as Mali are,” said Kasperczak.

“Even if the two teams appear as favourites, all the fixtures in this group will be crucial to qualifying to the quarterfinals.”

— Supersport.com

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