Battle Royale in Bamako as Mali Take on Guinea

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AFCON 2021 QUALIFIERS

 Grudge game in Accra as Black Stars take on Bafana Bafana

Action began Wednesday in the Group Phase of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) with 48 matches to be played on Match Day 1 and MatchDay 2 between November 13 and 19.

Last month, the group stage was completed by the quartet of Chad, Gambia, South Sudan and Sao Tome e Principe after victories in the preliminaries.

This stage offers a mouth-watering prospect for the big guns the chance to assert their influence after not too impressive scorecard at the last AFCON in Egypt.
Yet it would be royale West African battle in the Group A fixture between Mali and Guinea in Bamako since both sides failed to last the distance in Egypt where they were shown the exit in the Round of 16. It will surely going to be a new beginning for Guinea under new French coach Didier Six, who replaced Paul Put while Les Aigles of Mali continue their chase for glory under Mohamed Magassouba who supervised their last AFCON campaign in Egypt.

Equally, there should be fireworks in Group B based on the pedigree of the two combatants when Burkina Faso entertains Uganda in Ouagadougou on Thursday. It would indeed be a fresh beginning for Cranes of Uganda after their Round of 16 ouster in Egypt following the appointment of Northern Irishman Johnny McKinstry as replacement for French tactician Sebastien Desabre.

Another prestige game is certainly the Group C clash in Cape Coast between the Black Stars of Ghana and Bafana Bafana of South Africa even as both teams shake off recent lethargy performances.

This encounter would be 13th between the two countries but Thursday’s encounter in Cape Coast will be the first competitive match for South Africa’s new handler Molefi Ntseki who last month started his coaching tenure with Bafana Bafana on a winning note with a hard-fought 2-1 defeat of Mali 2-1 in the Nelson Mandela Challenge title in Port Elizabeth.

But how well Bafana Bafana would fare under the deluge of Ghanaian supporters in Cape Coast yet remains to be seen as the Ghana Football Association (GFA) under a new helmsman (Kurt Okraku) hinted about the launch of a ‘passion-igniting campaign’ tagged ‘#Bring Back The Love’ to coincide with Black Stars’ AFCON opener.

AFCON 2021

(Thursday)

Mali v Guinea

Ghana v S’Africa

Congo DR v Gabon

Mo’bique’ v Rwanda

Egypt v Kenya

Togo v Comoros

Algeria v Zambia