Mali look to take control of Group E

Mali look to take control of Group E
Southampton's Moussa Djenepo

by Graeme Jackson

Wednesday Oct 06, 2021. 15:00

Mali will look to take control of Group E in Africa’s 2022 World Cup Qualifying tournament when they host Kenya at the Agadir Stadium in Morocco on Thursday 7 October 2021, kick-off at 21:00 CAT.

Mali will be hosting a second successive match in Agadir after a CAF inspection deemed their usual home base in Bamako not up to standard, though the issue has not affected the Eagles adversely thus far.

The West Africans top the group on four points after a 1-0 win over Rwanda in Morocco (with a goal from Adama M. Traore) followed by a goalless stalemate away to Uganda in Entebbe, both in September.

Mali coach Mohamed Magassouba has named a powerful squad for the matches which includes Traore and Premier League-based stars Moussa Djenepo and Yves Bissouma.

Kenya (level with Uganda on two points) are Mali’s nearest chasers in the group after recording a 0-0 draw with the Cranes (home) and 1-1 draw with Rwanda (away), with Michael Olunga netting for the Harambee Stars in the latter match.

They have recently welcomed a new coach in the shape of Engin Firat, who has named a squad with a blend of youth and experience – notably recalling Simba SC’s defender Joash Onyango and Spain-based Ismael Gonzalez.

I believe in young players. Youth is always the backbone of any team and I am happy with the squad I have. For now, we have to wait and see which squad we will have in the end after the foreign players join in,” said Firat.

In head-to-head stats, Mali and Kenya have met in just two previous matches, both in the Africa Cup of Nations tournament: the first was a 1-1 draw in February 1972, and the second saw Mali claim a 3-1 win in Bizerte, Tunisia in January 2004.

The other Group E match on Thursday sees Rwanda and Uganda meet in an East African derby, kicking off at 18:00 CAT.

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