Mali AFCON 2024 squad list, fixtures and opponents

Tagged as one of the perennial underachievers of football on the continent, ‘The Eagles’ of Mali will be making their 13th AFCON appearance since their debut in 1972.

Here is all the essential information you need to know about the Malia team at AFCON 2024.

This year's competition is officially named AFCON 2023 since it was initially scheduled to take place last year but was postponed until January-February 2024.

Mali's AFCON 2024 schedule

Mali have been pitched against South Africa, Namibia and Tunisia in Group E.  The Eagles' first two group matches will take place in Korhogo, near the Mali border, with the third match scheduled in San Pédro.

That said, this is what Mali’s schedule in Ivory Coast looks like:

  • 16 January 9pm: Mali – South Africa, Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium
  • 20 January 20, 9 pm: Tunisia – Mali, Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium
  • 24 January 6pm: Namibia – Mali, San Pédro Stadium

How did Mali qualify for AFCON 2024?

Mali secured qualification by topping a group that featured countries like Congo, South Sudan and the Gambia. The Eagles won all but one game, accumulating a total of 15 points. Their only loss came at the hands of the Gambia on the fourth match of the qualifiers.

  • Matchday 1 Mali-Congo (4-0)
  • Matchday 2 South Sudan-Mali (1-4)
  • Matchday 3 Mali-Gambia (2-0)
  • Matchday 4 Gambia-Mali (1-0)
  • Matchday 5 Congo-Mali (0-2)
  • Matchday 6 Mali-South Sudan (4-0)

Mali’s last 10 matches before AFCON 2024

The Malians have won seven of their last ten games, with their only defeat meted them by the Gambia. They also recorded drawn games against Central African Republic and Algeria.

  • Mali-Central African Republic (1-1) – 2026 World Cup Qualifiers
  • Mali-Chad (3-1) – 2026 World Cup Qualifiers
  • Saudi Arabia-Mali (1-3) – Friendly
  • Mali-Uganda (1-0) – Friendly
  • Mali-South Sudan (4-0) – CAN 2023 Qualifiers
  • Congo-Mali (0-2) – CAN 2023 Qualifiers
  • Gambia-Mali (1-0) – CAN 2023 qualifiers
  • Mali-Gambia (2-0) – CAN 2023 Qualifiers
  • Algeria-Mali (1-1) – Friendly
  • Mali-Zambia (1-0) – Friendly

Can Mali make it to the AFCON 2024 quarters?

The Malian national team has never won the Africa Cup of Nations but can boast of making the finals in the maiden appearance in 1972 and usually make it to the knockout phase. In the last edition in Cameroon, they were shockingly eliminated by Equatorial Guinea in the round of 16, as was the case two years prior.

The Eagles head into the tournament as one of the most organised sides in Ivory Coast. As such, there is optimism that has the required competence and nous to challenge the powerhouses for the trophy.

The Eagles would be missing the services of experienced heads like Ibrahima Koné and Checik Doucouré but still have an avalanche of talents to lead Mali to glory. The Malians won bronze in the 2012 and 2013 editions.

AFCON 2023
Photo by Icon Sport

Mali’s coach: Eric Chelle

The 46-year-old was born in Abidjan but made five appearances for the Malian national team. As a footballer, he had playing stints with Valenciennes and Lens, among others. His managerial career commenced in 2014 and he was named manager of the Eagles in May 2022.

In 13 games played at the helm, Chelle has lost only one, which could be the reason why Mali could make their first final appearance since 1972.

Eric Chelle on the sidelines for Mali AFCON 2024
Photo by Icon Sport

Player to watch: Sikou Niakite

Sikou Niakaté, aged 24, recently debuted for the national team. With two appearances under his belt, Niakaté was initially called up in November 2017 for a World Cup qualifying match against Gabon, but was not fielded.

 He later opted to represent the French under-19 team, much to the dismay of the then-Malia coach, Mohamed Magassouba. Having previously played for Valenciennes, Guingamp, and Metz in France, the Montreuil-born and raised now plies his trade for Braga in the Portuguese elite league.

Niakaté's physical prowess, defensive abilities, and propensity to contribute offensively make him a valuable addition to the Eagles' defensive line.

AFCON 2024
Photo by Icon sport

Mali’s AFCON 2024 preparations

The Eagles have opted to conduct their preparations at home before heading to Ivory Coast. On 6 January, they participated in a friendly match and secured a resounding 6-2 victory against Guinea-Bissau at the Stade du 26 Mars in Bamako, Mali.

Mali’s AFCON 2024 squad

Goalkeepers

Djigui Diarra (Young Africans SC), Aboubacar Doumbia (AFE), Ismael Diawarra (Malmo)

Defenders

Hamari Traore (Real Sociedad) Falate Sacko (Montpellier) Boubacar Kouyate (Amiens) Sikou Niakate (SC Braga), Mousa Diarra (Toulouse) Amadou Dante (Strum Graz)

Midfielders

Diadei Samassekou (Hoffenheim), Mohamed Camara (AS Monaco), Amadou Haidara (RB Leipzig), Aliou Dieng (Al Ahly), Lassana Coulibaly (Salernitana) Kamory Doumbia (Brest), Adama Noss Traore (Hull City), Yves Bissouma (Tottenham Hotspur), Boubacar Traore (Wolverhampton Wanderers)

Forwards

Sekou Koita (RB Salzburg), Dorgeles Nene (RB Salzburg), Moussa Doumbia (Al Adala), Fousseni Diabate (Lausanne-Sport), Ibrahim Sissoko (Saint Etienne), Lassine Sinayoko (AJ Auxerre), Youssoufa Niakate (Baniyas), Serine Doucoure (Lorient)

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Godfred Budu

Godfred Budu is a purpose-driven Ghanaian sports writer with a sharp eye for excellence. He has had stints with www.kickgh.com inkandkicks.com and ghanafans.com. He loves to talk and write about football on the African continent.