The previous time these two sides played a competitive match was in 2004, with Mali getting the win by one point in a 2-1 game, but there have been many changes since then and this match is stacking up to be a battle for second-place in Group D.
Mali has experienced very inconsistent tournament play throughout the past years. Making it to the semi-finals in both 2002 and 2004, failing to qualify in 2006, and then exiting in the first round in both 2008 and 2010. They only barely secured a place in this year’s African Cup of Nations, by taking advantage of the tournaments head-to-head rules and defeating Cape Verde.
Guinea on the other hand as shown a little more consistency over the years than Mali. Making it to the quarter finals for three years in a row until 2010, when they failed to qualify for the tournament. That being said, this year Guinea did not have one loss in the qualifying rounds, which includes the game against Nigeria that resulted in a draw and in turn knocked them out of the tournament.
Both teams have several star caliber players on their sides. Guinea have winger Pascal Fendouna, who currently plays for the Swiss club FC Sion and has 21 goals in 55 games for his country. Mali have their star player in the form of Barcelona midfielder Seydou Keita. Keita will most likely appear as the captain for Mali, after playing for his country over sixty times and scoring eighteen goals in those games.
The game should prove to have a relatively high tempo with the many young players that are on each team. Guinea has Ibrahima Conte and Alhassane Bangoura who are both nineteen years old, and Mali has fifteen players that are under the age of twenty-five starting.
The match will be hard fought and played at a quick pace, meaning that each side has the potential to go up on the other. A game to look out for and one to definitely watch to see who will advance in Group B.