Africa Cup of Nations 2019: Mali vs Ivory Coast - Match Preview and Prediction
After weeks of being somewhat overshadowed by the scintillating performances of the ladies at the just concluded FIFA Women's World Cup, as well as Lionel Messi's Copa America woes, AFCON 2019 has finally garnered much-needed momentum.
The round of 16 has been marked by a string of famous upsets, with minnows booking quarterfinal tickets like it's going out of fashion. Continental giants like Egypt, Morroco, and Cameroon have been given their marching orders, throwing the tournament's final outcome wide open.
Two-time African champions, Ivory Coast, would be looking to avoid being victims of another AFCON 2019 upset as they take on Les Aigles of Mali. This will be a keenly contested tie, with both sides having the confidence and firepower to progress onto the quarterfinal stage.
It was smooth sailing for Les Aigles of Mali into the round of 16, as they booked their place on top their group, with 2 wins and a draw. On the other hand, the Elephants of Ivory Coast left it late, picking their knockout phase ticket via an emphatic 4-1 victory over Namibia.
This is a game firmly poised, and that's ironically fitting because both sides are placed joint 62nd on the FIFA World Rankings. In 30 previous meetings between both teams, the Elephants of Ivory Coast have picked up a staggering 18 victories, with Mali's Les Aigles having a paltry 3 victories only.
The Ivorians will be looking to shake off a somewhat slow start to the tournament, and with their strong contingent of household names, they are slight favourites to pick up the win on paper. However, since the round of 16 has been a roller coaster ride for favourites thus far, expect a dogged resistance from Les Aigles of Mali.
Final score: Mali 2-2 Ivory Coast (Ivory Coast advance on penalties).