The Congolese have two draws under their belts, while the Malians find themselves with three points from their two encounters thus far
Issama, Kasusula, Mbeba, Mulumbu
Makiadi, Kaluyituka, Mputu, Lualua
Coulibaly, Tamboura, Diawara, Traore
Diabate, Maiga, Diarra
After bagging only two points from two matches, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s chances of reaching the quarter-finals hang by a thread. They need to beat Mali and hope Ghana overwhelm Niger during Group B’s last match day on Monday.
The Leopards are returning to the continental scene after six years of absence and have pegged their worst setback to happen in the quarter-finals, which they have played five times after their 1968 and 1974 victories in the finals. However, their paths will cross with another ambitious team, Mali, whose objective for the tournament is finishing third, at least, as they did in the 2012 Afcon.
DR Congo fuelled hopes after their bold 2-2 draw against Ghana in their opener but were stunned by low-rated Niger, who held them to a goalless draw on Thursday, and thus adding woe to their situation for the rest of the competition.
Mali’s lone-goal loss to Ghana brought a chilly shock to the Eagles’ camp. Coach Patrice Carteron was expecting a repeat of his side’s triumph over the Black Stars in the last edition’s third place match. He told his players they could do it again and hoped his men would maintain the momentum from their 1-0 win over Niger earlier on, however, they were outplayed, which the Frenchman said was due to fatigue and hard luck.
Now he needs to amend all that against the Leopards in a clash to determine who qualifies to the knockout stage and who bids farewell to the competition.
The Malians have their backs to the wall and will push with all their might to scramble a ticket to the next round at a time when the west African nation stands at a crossroads in its history, with the war to dislodge Islamic forces from the north still raging and the population hanging their hopes on their team for the much-needed joy and happiness in times of difficulty.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
DR Congo entered the competition in 1957 and have played 16 editions since then, winning the trophy in 1968 and 1974, and finishing third in 1998.
The Leopards had their biggest win in November 1969 against Zambia 10-1.
Claude Le Roy has coached the DR Congo twice, between 2004 and 2006 before returning in 2011. He also coached Cameroon twice from 1985 to 1988 and in 1998.
Mali came with three home based players: Soumbeyla Diakite from Stade Malien and Aly Yirango of Djoliba, as well as defender Salif Coulibaly also of Djoliba.
Twelve of Mali’s 23 players ply their trade in the French Ligue 1.
- Mali’s best record in the Africa Cup of Nations was in 1972 when they finished as runners-up against Congo in Cameroon.