Mali booked a quarter-final meeting with hosts Ivory Coast by holding on to beat Burkina Faso. The Eagles have reached the last eight for the first time since 2013 and Eric Chelle’s side will leave nothing to chance when they take on the host nation.

To win (90 min)
 Mali 5/2  
 Draw 33/20
 Ivory Coast 12/10 


With three goals across his four tournament appearances, Auxerre forward Lassine Sinayoko has fired Mali into the quarters. His rich vein of form is even more impressive when we consider that only one of his teammates, Real Sociedad’s Hamari Traoré, has found the back of the net in Ivory Coast.

An own goal gave the Eagles an early lead in their Round of 16 clash with Burkina Faso. Despite several chances to add to their advantage before half-time, that would remain the only goal of the opening stanza. Upon closer inspection, Mali finished the first half with six of their eight shots classified as off target. Against a resurgent Ivory Coast outfit, they would need to have their shooting boots on.

Yet to register a goal or an assist at the tournament, Tottenham midfielder Yves Bissouma has been used scarcely by Chelle. The twenty-seven year old was one of six changes that the Mali tactician would make to his side to take on The Stallions. With less than three hours of tournament football to his name, I am sure this is the game that Bissouma will be called upon as Mali look to book their semi-final ticket!


After axing Jean-Louis Gasset, two days after their 4-0 defeat against Equatorial Guinea, interim head coach Emerse Fae would (unexpectedly) guide them to the quarters. Even the most arrogant of Ivorians would have been weary about navigating their Round of 16 clash against the defending AFCON champs, Senegal. Nevertheless, The Elephants went toe-to-toe with the Lions of Teranga for two hours, eventually progressing on penalties.

It was a much-improved display, with the hosts controlling play for large portions of the first half. They would register over 60% possession and string together over a hundred more passess than Senegal, in the opening forty-five. Fae would call upon a trio of substitutes, from his star studded squad. Forward Sebastian Haller, midfielder Franck Kessie and winger Nicolas Pepe would be summoned from the bench and brought a new energy to the hosts.

Pepe proved to be a handful for the defenders on the night, running in behind on two occasions and winning a penalty which Kessie would go on to convert in the dying stages of the game. Despite appearing in all four of their tournament appearances, the former Arsenal man is yet to open his account for his country at AFCON. With fresh wind in his sails, I back the twenty-eight year old to put in a match-winning performance in this one!

PREDICTION: Ivory Coast to go through!

Ivory Coast have flirted with a tournament exit during the group stage. However, Morocco’s win over Zambia meant that the host nation snuck in as one of the best third-placed teams. Having dispatched a Senegal outfit, who had won every group stage game, there should be nothing stopping them now.

Written by Desh Parthab