10 February 2013

Mali Showed Micho What to Expect

After securing their second successive third place finish at the Africa Cup of Nations, Mali switch their attention to next month's Fifa World Cup 2014 Brazil qualifier against Rwanda.

The Eagles deservedly beat Ghana 3-1 in the third-place playoff clash on Saturday in what was a repeat of last year when the two West African rivals met at the same stage and Mali won it 2-0 in the Equatorial Guinea capital Malabo.

As it was a year ago, the Black Stars were the favourites. However, Mali, led by their inspiring skipper Seydou Keita, who was Man of the Match, played a perfect game that made Asamoah Gyan and co look average compared to the opponent.

Mali's outstanding performance Saturday night, put together with their run throughout the tournament should be a case for concern for Milutin 'Micho' Sredojovic and the Amavubi Stars.

Rwanda host Mali on March 22 when the Fifa World Cup 2014 Brazil qualifiers return across the continent. Benin and Algeria are the other teams in Group H.

Benin lead the group with 4 points, Mali and Algeria each have 3, while Rwanda is bottom with a solitary point gained in a 1-1 home draw with Benin, having lost the opener 4-0 away to Algeria. Mali beat Algeria 1-0 in Ouagadougou and lost 2-0 in the Benin capital Cotonou, which makes next month's clash in Kigali so crucial to Amavubi and the Eagles.

Neither Rwanda nor Mali have ever played at the world cup finals, but considering events of the last one month or so, it goes without saying that Micho and his players are in for a real immense task to get a result from the game.

Mali's campaign at Afcon 2013 in South Africa and particularly the 3-1 win over Ghana will give them belief that they can really go on and top the world cup qualifying group-they will come into the March 22 clash to get three points.

And with the squad full of European based players, the phenomenon Keita, who plays in China and a coach Patrice Carteron, who still has a lot to prove to the Malians, Micho and his players now know what to expect than they possibly did a month ago.

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