Sports Features of Tuesday, 15 January 2013

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AFCON 2013 Profile: Mali


Best Performance: Runners-up - 1972
Champions: None
Runners-Up: 1972
Third Place: 2012
Fourth Place: 1994, 2002, 2004


The Eagles of Mali qualified for their eighth Africa Cup of Nations by defeating Botswana both home and away. They beat the Zebras 3-0 in Bamako and repeated the dose in Gaborone as they seek to improve upon their third place finish during the last edition in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.


Frenchman Patrice Carteron took over from Alain Girese and he has put together a formidable squad made up of veterans such as Seydo Keita and Adama Coulibally, as well as youngsters including Samba Sow of French side Lens and Djoliba's 19-year-old Salif Coulibally.

He is a strict disciplinarian and tactically efficient as he has guided the Malians to a number of victories since taking over. The players respect him, and his coaching philosophy is thus far paying dividends for the Eagles.


Seydou Keita has been the captain of the side since 2010 when Fulham's Mamadou Diara called it quits from international football. The former Lens, Marseille and Barcelona midfielder retired from international football last year, only to bounce back and lead the Eagles to third place at the 2012 Afcon in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

Keita, who currently plays in the Chinese league for Dalian Aerbin is a major unifier in the team, as he is highly respected by the players and represents his coach on the pitch.

Mali squad

Goalkeepers: Soumbeyla Diakité (Stade Malien), Mamadou Samassa (Guingamp, France) and Aly Yirango (Djoliba AC).

Ddefenders: Idrissa Coulibaly (Lekhwiya, Qatar), Adama Tamboura (Randers, Danemark), Fousseni Diawara (AC Ajaccio, France), Ousmane Coulibaly (Brest, France), Adama Coulibaly (Auxerre, France), Salif Coulibaly (Djoliba AC), Mahamadou N’Diaye (Vitoria Guimares, Portugal) and Molla Wagué (Caen, France).

Midfielders: Samba Diakite (Queens Park Rangers, England), Seydou Keita (Dalian Aerbin, China), Momo Sissoko (Paris St Germain, France), Samba Sow (Racing Lens, France), Kalilou Traore (Sochaux, France), Mahamane Traore (Nice, France) and Sambou Yatabare (Bastia, France)

Forwards: Cheick Tidiane Diabate (Bordeaux, France), Cheick Fantamady Diarra (Stade Rennes, France), Sigamary Diarra (AC Ajaccio, France), Modibo Maiga (West Ham United, England) and Mamadou Samassa (Chievo Verona. Italy)