Stephen Keshi’s men hope for a winning start in their maiden appearance at the African Nations Championship
Cape Town Stadium will be the battle ground as two heavyweights in African football battle for supremacy in one of the opening group games at the African Nations Championship.
Coincidentally, both teams are nicknamed Eagles and 90 minutes will determine which will soar higher. After two failed attempts, Nigeria are making their debut in this tournament after a narrow escape against the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire in the qualifiers.
Mali on their own part halted the Guinean juggernauts to book a place for their second appearance. Djibril Trame’s side in their debut appearance did not get past the group stage after failing to win a single match and will be hoping to secure their first win against their West African neighbours.
Aside from this, Mali will be seeking their pound of flesh from the Nigerians after bowing to them in a disgraceful manner at the 2013 African Cup of Nations and will be buoyed by the presence of Cheick Diarra (who got them the consolatory goal against the Nigerians) in the squad.
With the absence of key players from the Super Eagles team, newly crowned Africa’s best coach Keshi will be counting on the experience of Chigozie Agbim, Solomon Kwambe, Ejike Uzoenyi and Benjamin Francis to continue their dominance over their rivals.
The Malian team look disgruntled following their defeat against Libya and a South African National First Division side in a warm up game ahead of this competition but will be seeking to get things right against a solid Nigeria side that defeated a well composed Ethiopia side 2-1 in their last friendly before departing for South Africa.