Sports Mole previews Sunday’s African Nations Championship clash between Zimbabwe and Mali, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Mali will be looking to make it two straight victories and seal a quarter-finals place when they face Zimbabwe in the final Group A game of the African Nations Championship.
Following a 3-1 defeat to Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe crashed out of the tournament, as they failed to pick up a point in their first two games.
Mali are one of the most experienced nations at the 2020 African Nation Championship, having booked their fourth appearance at the bi-annual tournament with a 2-0 victory over Mauritania in the final round of qualifiers.
They are led by well-renowned head coach Nouhoum Diane, who guided Malian-based club Stade Malien to an impressive six league titles.
The Eagles are currently unbeaten in Cameroon, after securing a 1-0 win over Burkina Faso in the group opener, and a 1-1 draw with host nation Cameroon.
Mali are tournament favorites, and they will look to surpass their 2016 run, where they finished second, after losing 3-0 in the final to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
On the other hand, Zimbabwe became the first nation to crash out of the tournament, after suffering back-to-back defeats in their opening group games.
Prior to the launch of the tournament, Zimbabwe lost almost a third of their regular starters to the coronavirus, as nine players and five coaching staff members tested positive.
Despite quick recoveries, the Warriors failed to get into gear, as they launched their campaign with yet another opening day defeat, before a disappointing 3-1 humbling at the hands of Burkina Faso on Wednesday.
Zimbabwe come into this fixture with nothing to lose, while Mali will look to grab all three points and book another quarter-finals appearance.
A look at their last five meetings shows that a tightly contested matchup should be expected, however, as both nations have secured two wins and one draw apiece.
Zimbabwe African Nations Championship form: LL
Zimbabwe form (all competitions): WDLDLL
Mali African Nations Championship form: WD
Mali form (all competitions): WWWWWD
Zdravko Logarusic has a full squad to select from after all players and staff tested negative for coronavirus in the latest round of testing.
Some alterations are expected to be seen in the Zimbabwe starting lineup, as Logarusic could hand a few players their first starting appearance at the tournament.
On the other hand, Mali will most likely field a similar lineup from last time out, meaning Moussa Kone and Ibrahim Sidibe will lead the attack once more.
Stade Malien full-back Issaka Samake has been a standout performer for the Malians, scoring one goal and creating one in the first two games at the tournament.
Zimbabwe possible starting lineup:
Chinani; Nekati, Mavhurume, Muduwa, Chamboko; Jaure, Nyahwa, Chitiyo; Tavengwa, Chirinda, Matare
Mali possible starting lineup:
Diarra; Samake, Y Doumbia, M Doumbia, Bagayoko; Diallo, Kyabou, Kanoute, Ballo; Sidibe, Kone
We say: Zimbabwe 0-2 Mali
Due to the gulf in quality of both nations’ domestic league and crop of players at the tournament, it should be a one-sided affair on Sunday, with Mali grabbing all three points to qualify for the knockout stages.
Top betting tip
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