Mali meet Mauritania on Monday in African Cup of Nations play. The two nations will meet at the Suez Stadium as they both seek to get their campaigns off to a flying start.
Mali and Mauritania are joined in Group E by Tunisia and Angola. Mauritania are seen as the weakest side in Group E and have the longest odds to win the group.
Caretaker manager Mohamed Magassouba will hope his team can fulfil their favourite’s tag. Mali go into the fixture ranked 62nd in the world, while Mauritania are 103rd.
Ten of Mali’s 23-man squad play their football in France. Although there is definitely quality throughout the team, Mali’s players are inexperienced with no player on the 23-man squad having scored over five international goals.
Mauritania manager Corentin Martins will hope his side has more quality on the pitch than it does on paper. Six members of the team play their football in the Mauritania league while the rest is made up of players who compete in Turkey, the Middle East, and North Africa.
Martins can call upon a few players that compete in Europe. Real Valladolid’s Hacen El Ide is perhaps the most high-profile of Mauritania’s players thanks to playing in La Liga. Hacen only appeared in one league match for Real Valladolid last season, however.
Mali’s post-Africa Cup of Nations 2019 qualifying form has been abysmal. The team was winless its three friendlies in the build-up to the tournament in Egypt. Mali lost to both Senegal and Algeria while claiming a draw against Cameroon.
On paper, all three friendly fixtures were far more difficult than Monday’s opponent Mauritania.
Mauritania have lost two of three friendly matches in 2019. They did defeat Madagascar 3-1. However, losses to Ghana and Benin were suffered with Mauritania allowing three goals in each loss.
Mauritania are playing in their first ever Africa Cup of Nations tournament. Just being in Egypt is a victory for the nation.
Mali, on the other hand, are playing in their sixth straight Africa Cup of Nations. Their highest finish came in 2012 and 2013 when they finished third in back to back tournaments.
Monday’s fixture will see Mauritania crash to earth. They are playing in their first tournament and making a step up in competition. Mali will pick up the win to start their campaign.
PREDICTION : MALI 1-0
ACCUMULATOR TIP : MALI WIN OR DRAW @ 1.22 @ FORTUNEBET