Team Profile: Mali

Nickname: The Eagles
Association formed: 1960
Previous Afcon Appearances: 9 (1972, 1994, 2002, 2004, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015)
Best result: Runners-Up (1972)
Coach: Alain Giresse
Leading scorers: all-time –Seydou Keita (25)
Most appearances: all-time –Seydou Keita (102)
FIFA ranking: 60 (11th in CAF)

THE BIG QUESTION
It is very surprising that Mali has never won the African Cup of Nations. But can they win it this time around?

WHO ARE THEY?
The Mali national football team represents Mali in international association football and has done so since the 1960s. They have never qualified for the World Cup finals.

TOP THREE PLAYERS
Yacouba Sylla: The former Aston Villa flop has been a key man for Giresse since the Frenchman took over, starting 13 of the coach’s 15 matches at the helm. He’s a no-frills operator, but brings presence and power to the midfield albeit with slightly less panache than some of his predecessors in the role.

Sambou Yatabare: Yatabare offers goals from midfield, which are certainly a valuable commodity in a tournament that’s likely to be cagey and decided by the finest of margins. He’s versatile too, and shone in the 5-2 romping of Benin to end the qualifying campaign.

Bakary Sako: Something of a peripheral figure at Palace this season, where he’s made just four substitute appearances all term, Sako has been linked with a move to Birmingham City. He hasn’t been a regular under Giresse, but with four goals in his last six internationals, and the ability to play on either flank, he can be a valuable asset in Gabon.

HOW THEY QUALIFIED
The Eagles impressed during qualification, swatting away the challenge of Equatorial Guinea, who failed to build on their fourth-placed finish at the 2015 showpiece, and demolishing second-placed Benin 5-2 in the final group game. Mali ultimately topped Group C with 16 points, five more than their West African little brothers.

FULL 23-MAN SQUAD AFCON

Goalkeepers: Soumaila Diakité (Stade Malien de Bamako), Djigui Diarra (Stade Malien de Bamako), Oumar Sissoko (Orléans, France)

Defenders: Ousmane Coulibaly (Panathinaikos, Greece), Hamari Traore (Reims, France), Molla Wagué (Udinese, Italy), Salif Coulibaly (TP Mazembe, DR Congo), Mohamed Oumar Konaté (RS Berkane, Morocco), Mahamadou N’Diaye (Troyes, France), Youssouf Koné (Lille, France)

Midfielders: Yves Bissouma (Lille, France), Mamoutou N’Diaye (Royal Antwerp, Belgium), Lassana Coulibaly (Bastia, France), Yacouba Sylla (Montpellier, France), Samba Sow (Kayserispor, Turkey), Adama Traoré (AS Monaco, France), Sambou Yatabaré (Werder Bremen, Germany)

Forwards: Moussa Marega (Vitória Guimarães, Portugal), Kalifa Coulibaly (Gent, Belgium), Moustapha Yatabaré (Karabukspor, Turkey), Bakary Sako (Crystal Palace, England), Moussa Doumbia (Rostov, Russia)

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1Burkina FasoBUR31204225
2CameroonCAM31203215
3GabonGAB30302203
4Guinea BissauGUI301225-31
#Group BPWDLGFGAGDPts
1SenegalSEN32106247
2TunisiaTUN32016516
3AlgeriaALG302156-12
4ZimbabweZIM301248-41
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1Dr CongoDRC32106337
2MoroccoMOR32014226
3Ivory CoastIVR302123-12
4TogoTOG301226-41
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1EgyptEGY32102027
2GhanaGHA32012116
3MaliMAL302112-12
4UgandaUGA301213-21
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