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Preview: Gambia vs. Mali

In a meeting between winners from the opening day in Group F at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, Mali and Gambia clash with the top spot in the group at stake on Sunday. Mali defeated Tunisia 1-0 courtesy of an Ibrahima Koné penalty kick before the end of the match was marked by controversy due to erratic decisions from the match referee. Meanwhile, The Gambia started their debut AFCON appearance off with a win against Mauritania and the momentum continues to build for the Scorpions, who aim to make a serious run in the competition.

Mali’s victory over Tunisia was confirmed by CAF, who rejected Tunisia’s formal protest to award Les Aigles the 1-0 win. The West African nation has long been a very good team in African football, but there is a sense from supporters in the country that now is a good time for their Eagles to make a run for their first continental trophy. Considering that Mali finished in Cameroon as runners-up for the first time at the 1972 AFCON and also finished second at the African Nations Championship (CHAN) last year, the expectations continue to steadily rise for this group. Manager Mohamed Magassouba should have a full complement of players to choose from outside of El Bilal Touré, who was red-carded at the end of the opener. Magassouba continues to express cautious optimism regarding how far the team can go and now that the Eagles have found a reliable goal scorer in Ibrahima Koné, Mali is now a team to watch for the final stages.

Les Aigles will be going up against a Gambia team that has their own ambitions in Cameroon. Utilizing a squad of talented young players with a few veteran leaders, the Scorpions lived up to their pre-tournament hype by delivering a victory in their opener. Gambian squad members have not disguised their high ambitions despite participating in their first AFCON, and earning a draw or win against Mali would be a loud warning to the rest of the field. Manager Tom Saintfiet does not have any notable absences due to Covid-19 or injury, and the Belgian coach acknowledged the difficulty of Mali as an opponent while praising his players for getting the job done against Mauritania. The Gambia camp has stressed that their participation in Cameroon is just the beginning for Gambian football, and the team is fully confident heading into Sunday’s match.

Check out the team news and comments from both teams ahead of the match in the links below.

Gambia v Mali – Top of the table clash (CAF Online)
Scorpions looking to upset Eagles (SuperSport)
Match Facts – Gambia v Mali (CAF Online)
Can Cameroun 2021 : Mali-Gambie, duel des vainqueurs (MaliWeb)

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