The Ismailia Stadium will host a clash between Angola and Mali on Tuesday with both in search of Last 16 qualification. With two games played, Mali sit at the summit of the charts having amassed four points and scored five goals, whereas Angola are in third after earning two points and bagging only a solitary goal. They can still progress though, as Tunisia are also on two points with one match remaining, meaning that this encounter should be an intriguing watch.
Angola haven’t enjoyed the best AFCON they could have wished for, with only one goal scored and two points on the board after 180 minutes. They are now in quite the predicament of probably needing to get three points from the side that’s top of the standings while also hoping that fourth placed Mauritania can get something from their affair with Tunisia. In their matchup against Tunisia, Angola went down by a goal within thirty-five minutes when Youssef Msakni struck the ball home from twelve yards, although they were back on level terms in the second half as Djalma ensured that the spoils would be shared by the two. An even game ended with a fair scoreline. However, Angola will be disheartened by the fact they failed to pick up three vital points versus Mauritania which would have propelled them into second position. Neither team could find their scoring touch on the day and now it all comes down to the last day.
Mali had no such problems when they met Mauritania on the opening day of Group E, obliterating their opponents by four goals to one and making a real statement of intent to the rest of the sides. Abdoulaye Diaby began the scoring thirty-seven minutes in, and on the stroke of half time Moussa Marega made it 2-0 to his nation from the penalty spot. After the break, Adama Traore got in on the act to put his team three ahead, although El Hacen El Id may have placed doubt in the back of the minds of the Mali players as he notched Mauritania’s consolation goal eighteen minutes from time. Any worries from the Mali camp were soon quashed as Traore bagged his brace and the team’s fourth only two minutes later, providing Mali with a great platform from which they launched their assault on the number one spot. The fixture versus Tunisia was not quite so eventful as the game finished 1-1. Diadie Samassekou got the first with an hour played, although former Sunderland attacker Wahbi Khazri helped his country to a solid point.
There are zero injury concerns for Angola as they prepare for this one, a huge boost given the importance of the tie. It’s difficult to say how they’ll line up as neither match has been particularly impressive from their point of view, although what can be noted is they managed to score against Tunisia in the 3-5-1-1 with Fredy, Djalma and Bastos enjoying good games. The switch to 4-2-3-1 slightly hampered the performance of Fredy and Djalma and this time the defenders were on top form with Bastos again displaying his quality alongside man of the match Dani Massunguna. Here, we expect Angole to attempt a different formation with Fredy as a lone attacker as they look to recapture the attacking flair they had at times in the opener.
It appears clear that Mali will opt for the 4-2-3-1 that worked so well against Mauritania rather than the 4-3-2-1 they used versus Tunisia, the latter of which failing somewhat. They will have to make do without Adama Traore though as the attacker picked up a groin injury, allowing lesser-used players to get into the managers thoughts. He was the man of the match against Mauritania, so Moussa Doumbi – the expected replacement – will have a big job on his hands in filling those boots. Marega will begin as a number nine by himself in front of Abdoulaye Diaby and Moussa Djenepo, while Samassekou and Lassana Coulibaly will occupy central midfield.
When Mali are on form they can provide a threat for any opposition, as was evident when they turned on the style against Mauritania. Coming up against a resolute Angole team won’t be easy by any means, but Mali should have too much for the third placed side and we expect them to win comfortably. Skybet have Mali to win to nil at 2/1, which aren’t bad odds all things considered. If Mali really want to punish the opposition, there’s no question that they have the necessary quality. It’s likely they’ll want to prove that they can do it without star-man Traore, so a victory by a couple of goals wouldn’t be a shock. Skybet have Mali to score three or more goals at 13/2. Moussa Marega had a great season with FC Porto in Portugal in 2018/19 and is already off the mark in the AFCON, with Skybet offering odds of 15/8 for the striker to bag again here.