Molla Wague of Mali challenged by Luwaga Kizoto of Uganda during the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations Finals match between Uganda and Mali at the Oyem Stadium in Gabon on 25 January 2017 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Thursday Jan 26, 2017. 15:30
Mali endured a difficult campaign at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, with the Eagles exiting the tournament in the first round for the second successive time.
While their departure in 2015 was down to the drawing of lots (they finished with an identical record to Guinea, who progressed in their stead), this year the Eagles were simply not up to the task of going toe-to-toe with heavyweights like Ghana and Egypt.
While they did hold the Pharaohs to a goalless draw in their opener (and were arguably the stronger team in the game) they followed that up with a 1-0 loss to Ghana where they were unable to match the class and experience of their opponents.
Mali still had a slim chance of advancing to the quarterfinals heading into their final game, but it was no real surprise when this didn’t come to fruition. The Eagles were unable to beat already-eliminated Uganda (the teams drew 1-1) and a win wouldn’t have helped their cause anyway, as they needed Ghana to beat Egypt in a simultaneous match.
As it was, the Pharaohs edged the Black Stars 1-0 to finish top of the group, condemning Mali to a third-place finish.