Mali and Burkina Faso are set to face each other in the round of 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations at the Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium on Tuesday. Both teams are looking to surpass their previous performances in the tournament.
Mali has been impressive in the AFCON campaign so far, with their adaptability and solid defense preventing their opponents from scoring.
They have only allowed one shot on target in their matches against Tunisia and Namibia, following a 6-shot onslaught from South Africa in the opening fixture.
Mali secured a 2-0 victory against South Africa, drew 1-1 with Tunisia, and played out a goalless draw with Namibia, finishing at the top of Group E with five points.
On the other hand, Burkina Faso is known as a dark horse in the AFCON. They have reached the semi-finals or final in three out of the past five editions, and they aim to replicate that success this year.
Their journey to the final in 2013 was memorable, but they stumbled in the group stage in 2015, finishing third and fourth in 2017 and 2021 respectively.
Burkina Faso started the group stage with a narrow 1-0 win over Mauritania but struggled in subsequent games, settling for a 2-2 draw with Algeria and losing 2-0 to Angola.
Despite some concerns about their attacking and defensive performance, they managed to advance to the next round as runners-up with four points.
Historically, Mali has dominated this fixture, remaining unbeaten against Burkina Faso in all eight encounters. This includes their only AFCON meeting in 2004, which ended in a draw.
However, Mali needs to be cautious as they have failed to progress beyond the round of 16 in the past four AFCON editions, with their best performance dating back to 1972 when they finished as runners-up.
Considering Burkina Faso’s experience of reaching advanced stages in recent tournaments and their status as underdogs, this match promises to be a closely-fought contest.
Mali has shown their attacking prowess during the group stage, with Lassine Sinayoko scoring two out of their three goals.
He is expected to lead the attack again in this match. Yves Bissouma, who returned to the starting lineup against Namibia, is likely to retain his place.
For Burkina Faso, Bertrand Traore, who found the net in the first two matches as a substitute, earned a starting position against Angola. The Aston Villa forward is expected to continue in the starting lineup, while Dango Ouattara from Bournemouth is set to lead the attacking line.
Traore, Kouyate, Niakate, Sacko;
Dieng, Bissouma, Haidara;
Burkina Faso: (4-2-3-1)
Yago, Tapsoba, Dayo, Nagalo;
Tapsoba, Sangare, Traore;
Prediction: Mali 1-0 Burkina Faso
We anticipate a closely-fought match between Mali and Burkina Faso, but we believe Mali will come out on top.
Their solid defense has been a decisive factor in tournament football, and it is likely to make a difference in this game.