Mali v Guinea – Neighbors’ derby with one ticket to the final

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West African neighbors Mali and Guinea lock horns in an exciting derby at the Total African Nations Championship (CHAN), Cameroon 2020 on Wednesday (3 February 2021). A thrilling game that takes place at the Japoma Stadium in Douala.

Reaching CHAN 2020 semi-finals is surely no accident for either Mali if Guinea. Before the start of the tournament, the Eagles were among the favorite teams for the title, while the Syli National were considered serious underdogs.

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Both teams reach the semifinals for the second time in their CHAN history, and ironically the first time for both sides was in Rwanda 2016. Mali reached the final and finished second, while Guinea lost in the semis to eventual champions DR Congo.

The pressure will be a little more felt on the Malian shoulders. The Eagles did not hide it from Day 1 that they are in Cameroon to play for the title. “We want to play the final at all costs. We will do everything to be able to get there,” Mali coach Nouhoum Diane said.

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Mali needed penalty shootout to overcome the hurdle of Congo in the quarterfinal, a wakeup call to Diane’s men before the semifinals. Moreover, they will need physical freshness and recovery after 120 minutes of play against the Congolese.

The same recovery issue might be needed for Guinea, who struggled to defeat Rwanda with a lone goal while playing for more than 80 minutes with ten men. But coach Mohamed Kanfoury Bangoura's men showed solidarity to end up winning over a new inspiration from their tournament star Morlaye Sylla.

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“It will be necessary to be in place tactically and to respect the instructions. To play against Mali, you need courage intelligence,” Bangoura noted.

The winner will play against holders Morocco or hosts Cameroon in the final in Yaounde on February 7th.