Mali head into this match under a cloud of negativity.
In the head lead up to this tournament, Fifa was threatening
to ban the country from the Cup of Nations over squabbling among officials.
Mohamed Magassouba then took four days longer than any of
the other 23 coaches to name his squad, without offering an explanation.
Such chaotic build-ups can build team unity or destroy it as
Mali seek to regain a reputation for punching well above their weight in the
“We have to do better than in the last two
tournaments,” stressed defender Hamari Traore, referring to first round
exits in 2015 and 2017 without winning even one match.
Long-time pushovers and tournament newcomers Mauritania have improved steadily under French coach Corentin Martins, whose aim in Egypt is simply to “be competitive and achieve some victories”.
Mali vs Mauritania: Prediction, head-to-head and TV stream
Despite all the kerfuffle, Mali remain strong favourites,
with their win probability 54%. The draw is at 28% while a win for Mauritania
is just 18%.
Where and what time
Kick off is at 22:00 (SAST).
In Africa, SuperSport 4 and 10 will broadcast the match and
the opening ceremony.
Elsewhere: Eurosport Player (UK) and beIN Sports Connect (U.S.).
Additional reporting by AFP, TSA Staff and agencies.