Stade Malien eye first ever ACL group stage spot

Stade Malien eye first ever ACL group stage spot
TP Mazembe's Malian defender Salif Coulibaly (L) in ACL action in 2014

by Stephane DeSaintsalvy

Thursday Apr 16, 2015. 15:40

Stade Malien will host TP Mazembe in Bamako on Saturday, in the first leg of their CAF Champions League round of 16 clash.

The 1964 African Cup of Champions Clubs runners-up and 2009 Confederation Cup winners have never reached the group stage of the continent’s most prestigious clubs competition under his current format, and will be looking to make history against the Lubumbashi giants after getting past AS GNN of Niger on away goals and AS Mangasport of Gabon 5-2 on aggregate.

“We are preparing well for the game. There is a great atmosphere within the group. We will approach the match in total serenity while remaining focused to settle into our rhythm. We don’t fear TP Mazembe. We will be eleven on the pitch, as they will,” Stade Malien’s Togolese full-back Ouro-Akondo Tanko told Africatopsports.

However, the four-time African champions and semifinalists of last year’s edition will be favourites to progress to the last eight of the tournament, after defeating South African side Mamelodi Sundowns 3-2 on aggregate in the previous round.

The trip to Bamako will also be the opportunity for Mazembe’s Malian quartet of centre-back Salif Coulibaly, midfielder Boubacar Diarra and strikers Adama Traoré and Cheibane Traoré to reunite with their countrymen, and even their former club in the case of the latter.

The protégés of Moïse Katumbi enjoy a perfect record against Stade Malien, after defeating the Bamako side in the 2010 CAF Super Cup and twice in the semifinals of the 2013 Confederation Cup.

The game will kick off at Stade Modibo Keita at 19h00 CAT on Saturday, with the return leg scheduled in Lubumbashi two weeks later.

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