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Mali look to pull away at the top of Group E with the expectation of victory against Kenya

Despite having a solid four points from the first two matches of their FIFA World Cup second round campaign, Mali’s underwhelming performance in their latest competitive match, a 0-0 draw at Uganda, was unsatisfactory to the supporters of Les Aigles. However, the team and manager Mohamed Magassouba can fend off any further concern by getting the full three points in the first encounter of their doubleheader this week against Kenya. Playing their home fixture in Morocco this week due to not having a suitable home venue like some of their other fellow African national sides, Mali are nonetheless expected to extend their two-point lead at the top of Group E and obtain six points this week.

Manager Magassouba stated his expectations that Kenya provide a fighting performance in Morocco on Thursday, but nothing less than a win will be acceptable to the tactician. Magassouba has patched up issues with Brighton midfielder Yves Bissouma and FC Nantes striker Kalifa Coulibaly with the players returning to the fold to join prominent talents such as Adama Traoré, whose goal and assist in UEFA Champions League play for Moldovan surprise package club Sheriff Tiraspol will likely have the 26-year-old in the starting lineup. With the doubleheader this week serving as an opportunity to put distance between Les Aigles and the East African nations in their group, Le Wagadu sums things up well in its preview with an African proverb by stating that “sheep walk together but do not have the same price”.

Meanwhile, the visitors from Kenya have it all to do in order to close the gap on the fancied Malians. Star striker Michael Olunga sounded an optimistic note by stating that the spirit in the Harambee Stars camp is very positive with new coach Engin Firat on board, but the pedigree gap between the two teams is very obvious. Olunga will hope to lead the attack and Belgian-based center back Joseph Okumu will lead the defense as Kenya attempts to build upon two points from their opening two matches, and a draw would be an excellent result to bring back for the return fixture in Nairobi.

Check out the team news for both sides in the links below.

Mali-Kenya en double confrontation cette semaine (Mali Tribune)
Aigles du Mali, urgent et nécessaire recadrage (Le Wagadu)

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