Mali, Cote d’Ivoire renew rivalry

REGIONAL heavyweights Mali and Cote d’Ivoire will renew their rivalry when they meet in the round of 16 at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. The clash is set for the Suez Stadium today at 7pm.

Mali have enjoyed a strong AFCON showing thus far, finishing top of group E ahead of Tunisia, Angola and Mauritania. In fact, they were the only team to claim any victories in what was otherwise a very tightly contested pool.

The Eagles are the co-leading scorers at the tournament thus far with six goals (equal with Algeria), and the fact that they have had six different players getting on the score sheet demonstrates how well balanced they are under caretaker coach Mohamed Magassouba.

Cote d’Ivoire are not far behind in this regard, with their five goals coming from five different players. The Elephants, however, suffered a 1-0 loss to Morocco (guided by former coach Herve Renard) in their only testing game of Group D.

Coach Ibrahim Kamara will be looking to get more from his star men, such as Nicholas Pepe, Wilfried Zaha and Max Gradel. Perhaps the do-or-die nature of knockout football will see the Ivorians rise to the challenge.

In head-to-head stats Mali and Cote d’Ivoire have met in 30 previous matches. The Elephants have claimed 18 wins compared to three for the Eagles, while nine games have been drawn. The teams’ most recent meeting was a World Cup qualifier in Bamako in October 2017 which ended in a goalless stalemate.

The winners of this match will advance to face either Algeria or Guinea in the quarterfinals on July 11 in Suez. – Backpage TXT

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