Friday, March 1, 2024
HomeSportHosts Côte d'Ivoire face stiff test against Mali

Hosts Côte d’Ivoire face stiff test against Mali

The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON, hosts Côte d’Ivoire will clash with Mali in a quarterfinal match on Saturday for a place in the last four.

Côte d’Ivoire is looking to ride the momentum from their dramatic penalty shootout victory over Senegal. “After the qualification against Senegal, we were able to take up our colours, which was very complicated for us from the very beginning, but to be able to win, especially when we went to penalties, it was actually touching,” said Côte d’Ivoire coach Emerse Fae.

However, Côte d’Ivoire has struggled to find form in the tournament, having not scored from open play in their last three games.

Mali will be banking on a prolific attack led by forward Lassine Sinayoko, who already has three goals. “We are in a good state of mind,” said Sinayoko. “The team is focused for this game.”

Côte d’Ivoire defender Yahia Fofana admitted that beating Mali would be difficult. “It is going to be a more difficult game against Mali on Saturday, and we are not going to underestimate them because they are good,” he stated.

For Mali coach Éric Sékou Chelle, the match represents a symbolic opportunity against the host nation. “There is one thing that is important for me, Côte d’Ivoire is part of the favorite like I said from the beginning, they are the host country,” he noted.

Chelle has worked to shore up Mali’s defense, an effort he hopes will contain Côte d’Ivoire’s attack. “We are actually working before each game especially the defence and we are progressing everyday,” he said.

With a semifinal spot on the line, the rival nations are set for a hard-fought quarterfinal. The match will be played at the Stade de Bouaké by 6pm (Nigerian time) on Saturday (today).

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