The Africa Cup of Nations is heating up with the final standings in Group E set to be determined this week. Mali is set to face off against Namibia at Stade Laurent Pokou on Wednesday evening.
This match is crucial for both teams as they battle for the top spot in the group. Namibia is looking to secure a place in the last 16, while Mali hopes to continue their unbeaten run and secure qualification.
Namibia pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the competition on matchday one when they claimed a historic victory against Tunisia.
Although they slumped to a 4-0 defeat against South Africa on matchday two, they are still well in contention for a spot in the last 16.
Mali, on the other hand, is the only undefeated team in the group after securing four points from their first two matches.
In their last eight AFCON tournaments, The Eagles have been eliminated from the group stages on four occasions, while in the last two tournaments, they were eliminated in the Round of 16.
However, based on their performances this year, Eric Chelle’s side needs just a draw or better here and will be full of confidence in getting the result they need, having beaten Namibia in four of their six encounters while only losing once.
Peter Shalulile will likely lead the line for Namibia on Wednesday evening after fully shaking off the injury that threatened his participation in the competition.
Absalom Iimbondi and Petrus Shitembi may start on the bench, with Bethuel Muzeu and Ngero Katua possibly replacing them in the first 11.
With no new injury concerns to report, Chelle is likely to deploy a similar starting lineup to one that held Tunisia to a 1-1 draw with Lassine Sinayoko and Sekou Koita leading the line in a 4-3-1-2 formation.
Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Yves Bissouma is expected to return to the starting 11 and will provide coverage for the central defensive pairing of Boubakar Kouyate and Braga’s Sikou Niakate.
Namibia’s Africa Cup of Nations form is a win and a loss, but their recent form in all competitions is three wins, two draws, and two losses.
Mali’s AFCON form is a win and a draw, while their recent form in all competitions is three wins, two draws, and a loss.
Namibia possible starting lineup: (4-1-4-1)
Nyambe, Amutenya, Haukongo, Hanamub;
Muzeu, Katua, Tjiueza, Hotto;
Mali possible starting lineup: (4-3-1-2)
Traore, Kouyate, Niakate, Sacko;
Dieng, Bissouma, Haidara;
Prediction: Namibia 1-1 Mali
Mali has been one of the surprise packages in this competition and looks set to qualify for the last 16 after two positive performances to date.
Namibia was humbled last time out but showed enough to suggest they are not out of the competition yet. We predict a nail-biting match with nothing to split these sides at the final whistle.
Key Players to Watch:
Peter Shalulile (Namibia), Lassine Sinayoko (Mali), Sekou Koita (Mali)
Mali has beaten Namibia in four of their six encounters while only losing once.