Going undefeated against South Africa and Tunisia in Group E, Mali had already placed one foot in the AFCON round of 16. The Eagles will square off with a Burkina Faso side who were left licking their wounds, after being dealt a 2 nil defeat by Angola.

To win (90 min)
 Mali 21/20 
 Draw 16/10
 Burkina Faso 29/10


With 26 of their 27 man squad plying their trade out of the country, Mali have football knowledge and (more importantly) experience by the bucket load! Perhaps it comes as no surprise that Éric Chelle’s side have qualified as Group E winners. Afterall, they are yet to see defeat at the tournament …

Indeed, their impressive defensive performances has seen the nation concede just a single goal across their three group games (against a Tunisia side that are currently ranked third on the continent). Boubacar Kiki Kouyate and Sikou Niakate have been marshalling Mali’s defence to devastating effect and the midfield destroyer that is Yves Bissouma is always on the prowl. The Tottenham Hotspur midfielder played just over an hour of football across their opening two fixtures, before completing a full ninety against Namibia. He will surely be pivotal in their bid for AFCON honours.

Including results in Ivory Coast, Mali are unbeaten in their previous 10 internationals (winning seven and drawing three respectively). Éric Chelle has truly made them one of the dark horses of the competition and has a team that could go all the way!


Burkina Faso boss, Hubert Velud, would have undoubtedly approached their final group game against Angola with a pinch of optimism. Ofcourse, that contest took place after his side weathered the storm to secure a point against a highly-rated Algerian side. His chargers conceded a stoppage time equaliser against The Desert Warriors, in a game where they had just 34% of the ball.

Prior to the clash with Angola, both nations had been certain of progression to the next round of action before kick-off, due to other results in the final round of games. With that being said, Velud was not able to churn out anything like that performance against Algeria and his side were quashed 2 nil by the Angolans.

That result meant that Burkina Faso ended their group campaign in second place, following a shock result on the final day of the Group stages (ie. minnows Mauritania eliminated Algeria, by beating the 2019 AFCON champions 1-0).

Now in the business end of the competition, Velud and his technical team will need to ensure that his players are prepared for a physical encounter with Mali. Looking at the head-to-head, in their 2021 AFCON meeting with Mali, it was The Eagles who emerged victorious. History has a funny way of repeating itself.

PREDICTION: Mali to progress in this one!

With both teams having a day to forget at the office on the final day of the group stage, I expect both of them to come out all guns blazing! Mali failed to find the back of the net against Namibia, whilst Burkina Faso were dealt a shameful 2 nil defeat. With The Eagles conceding just once during the group stages, I expect their defence to give them the edge in this one.

Written by Desh Parthab