Mali will go head to head with Tunisia in the 2022 Fifa World Cup qualification third-round, first-leg match at the Stade du 26 Mars in Bamako on Friday.
Kick-off is at 7:00 pm.
The Eagles reached this stage of the qualifiers after dominating group E which they won – recording five wins and one draw from six matches including a 0-0 draw with Uganda in Entebbe.
They are coming into this match having been eliminated in the round of 16 at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon as they lost to Equatorial Guinea on penalties.
Mali have never qualified for the senior World Cup finals with a spot at the 2022 edition in Qatar up for grabs, but their head coach Malia Mohamed Magassouba is keen to change this. The Malian tactician is confident of making history with the Eagles.
“We all did our part to ensure that our team gets there. So, altogether, we will continue the work since we are 180 minutes from qualifying for the Qatar 2022 World Cup,” Magassouba told the media.
“And when we combine our efforts, Mali, as in our national anthem, “standing on the ramparts”, when Mali is standing, all of us are standing, I am convinced that victory is certain.
“And we are condemned to join hands, to propel ourselves to go to this victory.”
Meanwhile, Tunisia progressed to the third round of qualifying after finishing at the top of group B – winning their last group game against Zambia in order to secure a spot in the next stage.
The Carthage Eagles were then inconsistent at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations finals, but they managed to reach the quarterfinals where they were eliminated by Burkina Faso.
The North African giants have a new coach in Jalel Kadri, who replaced Mondher Kebaier. The 50-year-old tactician has had to explain his squad selection as he looks to guide the Carthage Eagles to their second successive World Cup qualification.
“All our choices are considered and studied. We opted for a list of 28 players to avoid unpleasant surprises. The return of [Taha Yassine] Khenissi? He is a player who has great qualities and who weighs on the opposing defences,” Kadri told Tunisian Football Federation TV.
“[Saad] Bguir? His qualities are indisputable. His technical background can help us solve some game situations, especially on set plays. [Ferjani] Sassi? It is a size in his role.
“The Afcon is archived and our current objective is to qualify for the World Cup. We need the contribution of everyone: players, media and the public in order to be present in Qatar and honour the jersey of the selection.”
In the Head-to-Head record, Mali and Tunisia will meet for the 13th time.
The Carthage Eagles have the upper hand having won six matches compared to the Eagles’ five victories while one game ended in a stalemate.
Their last meeting ended in a 1-0 win in favour of Mali in the 2021 Afcon group F game on 12 January. -Supersport