Mali vs Ivory Coast – Preview – African Cup of Nations Semi-final 8th February
Mali takes on Ivory Coast in a tough semi-final match at the Africa Cup of Nations in Libreville on Feb. 8. Ivory Coast was one of the tournament favourites before it began and they haven’t done anything to hurt their rating up to now by winning all four of their games.
Mali’s star player Seydou Keita wasn’t at training on Monday, but manager Alain Giresse said there’s nothing really wrong with the midfielder and he’s sure he’ll be in the line-up on Wednesday. Giresse claimed that Keita just needed a rest. However, Ivory Coast could be without Chelsea star Salomon Kalou as he’s suffering from a nagging hamstring injury. A decision on Kalou will be made shortly before game time.
Giresse said he’s well aware that Didier Drogba is Ivory Coast’s main threat, but said his team isn’t going to focus on him as their plan is to contain the entire team not just Drogba. He added that all of his players are well aware of what Drogba can do and it’ll be the job of all his players to keep an eye on the Chelsea striker.
Ivory Coast manager Francois Zahoui said it’s wonderful that his team has received so much praise during the tournament and is flattered by it, but it can’t go to the players’ heads as they have to perform well and win the game on the pitch. He pointed to previous years in the Africa Cup of Nations tournament where Ivory Coast were favoured, but were then beaten by supposedly weaker opposition.
Ivory Coast goes into this game red hot though as they’ve won their last five games while Mali has two wins, two losses and a draw. These two teams met last February with Ivory Coast winning 1-0 at home in a friendly. Before that, they met in the Africa Cup of Nations in 2008 with Ivory Coast coasting to a 3-0 win.
Mali has just scraped by to get to this stage of the tournament though. They’ve let in just as many goals as they’ve scored and they had to win a penalty shootout in the quarterfinals to get past Gabon, one of the co-hosts. Mali levelled the score late in the game against Gabon and were outplayed most of it. This means it’ll be an uphill battle for Mali as Ivory Coast hasn’t allowed a goal in the tournament yet.
Mali v Ivory Coast Predictions and Odds
Ivory Coast beat the other co-hosts, Equatorial Guinea 3-0 in their quarter-final matchup and with English Premier League players such as Kolo and Yaya Toure in the line-up along with Gervinho, Kalou, and Drogba, they’d have to choke again to miss out on the final this year against either Zambia or Ghana. Look for Ivory Coast to win this match by at least two goals.
Sportsbook William Hill has the current odds of a Mali win at 15/2 with an Ivory Coast victory at 4/9 and a 90-minute draw at 3/1. Get some nice free bets by clicking the banner up top on this page.