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Mali take aim at Zebras


Mali will look to defeat Botswana in their final Africa Cup of Nations Group D match in Libreville to try and progress to the quarterfinals of the competition.

The group is on a knife edge, with all four teams having a chance of progressing into the last eight. The combination of results from this encounter and the concurrent match between Ghana and Guinea in Franceville will decide the final standings.

Group positions are decided on a head-to-head record, so Mali have to better Guinea’s result against the Black Stars if they are to reach the quarterfinals for the first time in eight years.

Botswana coach Stanley Tshosane is expected to make a number of changes to his line-up after the 6-1 thrashing they suffered at the hands of Guinea.

Midfielder Patrick Motsepe is suspended for the match after his sending off against Syli Nationale.

Mali have a fully fit squad, though Samba Diakite is suspended. Seydou Keita, Bakaye Traore and Adama Tamboura are one booking away from a ban for the quarterfinals – should the Eagles get that far.

“Our approach to this match is much simpler to work out than going into the matches against Guinea and Ghana – and I hope we’ll do what we have to do,” Mali captain Cedric Kante told BBC Sport.

The Eagles lost 2-0 to Ghana in their last match, a close encounter in which the Black Stars’ superior finishing was the difference between the two teams.

Meanwhile, Botswana will be looking to restore pride after their record-equalling defeat to Syli Nationale.

“After the defeat against Guinea, we made sure we had a meeting first to share among ourselves what was the common problem,” said Zebras coach Tshosane.

“We felt the most important thing was to motivate each other and have a common idea – I’m quite sure the guys are ready.”

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