Both Burkina Faso and Mali along with Niger Republic under military rule have in one accord decided to leave the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Though in one accord politically and possibly, economically, Burkina Faso and Mali will put all that aside this Tuesday to fight a different battle. A fight for a place in Africa Cup of Nations’ quarter-finals.
It is not a battle to be fought by their military outfits, but by the footballers who will take to the pitch at Korhogo’s Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium.
It will be the final battle of the Round of 16.
Separated by a mere 650km distance, the meeting between the two neighbours promises to produce fireworks, with both sides yearning for continental glory having both fallen short on two separate occasions.
Having come agonisingly close to lifting the title in 2013, the Stallions, who finished second behind Angola in Group D will be looking at going all their way despite them having a jittery start to the tournament. Nigeria provides a common denominator for both.
At the 2013 edition, the Super Eagles of Nigeria used Mali as the stepping stone to get to the final, while Burkina Faso was the team beaten in Nigeria’s third success at the edition that took place in South Africa.
This time around, their journey to the round of 16 was not the easiest after having to sweat for a victory over Mauritania whom they edged 1-0 in their opener before a 2-2 stand-off between them an Algeria in their second fixture.
Their final group match saw them outclassed by Angola in a 2-0 defeat which was fortunately not too detrimental for their campaign as their 4 points where enough to see them advance.
Mali on the other hand lived up to the high expectations placed on them in Group E after a strong opening against South Africa.
The Eagles soared over Bafana Bafana by 2-0 in their opening clash but seemed to have let the foot of the pedal in their last two group matches after playing out to a 1-1 draw with Tunisia, before the Brave Warriors of Namibia held them to a goalless draw.
A lot will be expected of the Eagles’ ace, Yves Bissouma who is yet to stamp his authority in the competition, while the Stallions’ Bertrand Traore will be entrusted with being a key figure for his side.
- Both Burkina Faso and Mali are making their 13thAFCON appearance.
- Both nations have lost anAFCON Final.
In their previous 12 appearances, they have either been eliminated in the group stages (8 times) or at least reached the semi-finals (4 times) including the final defeat in 2013 (0 – 1 Nigeria).
This is Mali’s 13th appearance, and 9th in a row. No side has ever played as many games as Mali (54) at the TotalEnergies CAF AFCON without ever winning the trophy. Their best performance dates back to 1972 where they lost 3-2 in the final against Congo.
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