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AFCON 2023 Preview: Stallions of Burkina Faso in the eyes of history in burst up fight against Eagles of Mali

Posted : 30 January 2024

The Eagles of Mali will be seeking to improve upon their past two Africa Cup of Nations performances as they take on the Stallions of Burkina Faso, who want to recreate their history in the tournament in a round-of-16 encounter at the Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium. The Eagles of Mali had qualified as Group E winners, while the Stallions secured passage to this stage as runners-up in Group D.


The Eagles of Mali have been emphatic in winning their matches during the group game, as their adaptability and resolute defending have proven effective in frustrating opponents' attempts to breach their goal. Excluding the opening fixture against South Africa, Mali have attempted six shots on target and also restricted both Tunisia and Namibia to a single shot on target each.


A 2-0 victory over Bafana Bafana, a 1-1 draw against Tunisia, and a goalless stalemate with Namibia helped Mali top their group with five points. Meanwhile, Eric Chelle's men have not trailed at any point in this tournament and will aim to maintain that record when they face Burkina Faso.


Historically, Mali have dominated this fixture, boasting an unbeaten record against the Stallions with seven wins, including their only AFCON meeting in 2004, and one draw in eight encounters. However, despite this historical advantage in this fixture, the Eagles will be cautious, having failed to progress beyond the round of 16 in the past four AFCON editions, with their best performance coming in 1972, when they finished runners-up.


Often considered AFCON dark horses, Burkina Faso have reached the semi-finals or finals in three out of the past five editions and are keen to replicate that feat this year. After claiming a dream run to the 2013 final, they stumbled in the group stage in 2015, finishing third and fourth in 2017 and 2021, respectively.


Hubert Velud's men started the group stage with a narrow 1-0 win over Mauritania but faltered in subsequent games, settling for a 2-2 draw with Algeria before losing 2-0 to Angola. Despite going through to the next round as runners-up with four points, their performances raised concerns, highlighted by a lack of attacking potency and defensive vulnerability.


However, while they have not been convincing so far and their record against Mali remains abysmal, Burkina Faso's experience of reaching the advanced stages in recent tournaments could prove invaluable. The match will, however, be historic for both sides as they battle to survive the cut.





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