PREVIEW: Cameroon vs. Mali
Cameroon and Mali will clash in the 2015 African Cup of Nations Group D opener at 19:00 GMT in the Estadio de Malabo in Equatorial Guinea on Tuesday January 20.
The two teams have met twice before at the AFCON, with the Central Africans having the better results. Their first meeting was at the eighth edition of the competition which ended in a 1-1 draw, while Cameroon secured a 3-0 win over the Eagles in their second encounter of the 23rd edition.
The Indomitable Lions will be going into their first game without their influential skipper Stephane Mbia. The 28-year-old is suspended because of a red card he received during their last qualifying game against the Cote d’Ivoire and is similarly nursing an injury.
By contrast, Mali will have the full complement of their team without any injuries or suspensions ahead of this exciting encounter. As their most-capped player and captain Seydou Keita will be hoping to make history with his team.
Suspended Captain Mbia claimed ahead of the big game that his side is in a transformational era.
“The Cameroon team are in a rebuilding stage, but we need to be well prepared for this 2015 AFCON finals which is very important for our country and for us players,” he is quoted as saying on SuperSport.
Mali coach Henryk Kasperczak also said that his side are also in a transitional phase.
“Cameroon are experiencing a transition phase with a new generation of players as Mali,” he told SuperSport.
Coach Volker Finke’s side have participated in the competition 16 times and won it on four occasions. Mali have made eight appearances and finished third twice in the last two editions, in which Cameroon failed to qualify. Both teams will try to clinch the three points in their first game in Equatorial Guinea to bolster their chances in the competition.