By Beng Emmanuel
Mali’s head coach Nouhoum Diane says his team is confident to dethrone defending champions Morocco during the final of the 2020 African Nations Championship on Sunday and clinch their maiden silverware in their fourth spell at the biennial continental tournament.
The Eagles beat Guinea on penalties in the semi-finals at the Japoma Stadium to reach their second final after 2016 where they lost to the Democratic Republic of Congo 0-3 in Kigali-Rwanda.
They have expressed their desire to make amends this year and have resolved to sink Morocco’s ambition of a historic double by claiming their first continental crown.
“It is true that in 2016, we lost to the Democratic Republic of Congo in the final but we have to put that behind us. It was a great experience to reach the final in 2016. But the game against Morocco tomorrow will be different. Are we going to win or not? You have to understand that if we already feel uncertain then there’s no need to play tomorrow”-Nouhoum Diane told press men in Yaoundé.
“We are confident. With all what the players have been able to accomplish so far, I think its possible for us to play well tomorrow. Morocco is a great nation of football in Africa just like Guinea and Cameroon. For me there is no difference”
“Matches are played regularly but there are not similar. The game between Cameroon and Morocco was a match but that against Mali will be another. Will Morocco score four goals against us? Honestly I cannot answer such a question. We are going to prepare for the clash. We equally deserve respect. We are going to prove our worth to show that we deserve a place with regards to continental football”.
Mali finished top of group A with two wins and a draw. They reached the final of the African Nations Championship after beating Congo Republic and Guinea on penalties 5-4. They are the only team to have taken a game to extra-time twice in the competition. Nouhoum Diane disclosed his team will be fit for the Morocco clash despite playing two “difficult” games en route to their second CHAN final.
“It is true that we played two difficult games and we expect that the players will fully recover before tomorrow. For the moment we can’t be precise. I think the players are ready psychologically. We trained yesterday and I think everything is okay”.
“Morocco is favourites for tomorrow’s game. But this is football and we never know what to expect. Guinea and Cameroon were once the favourites against us. Morocco may have scored a great number of goals but tomorrow will be another game,” he concluded.
Mali could be without two of their key players; Mamadou Doumbia and Ibrahim Sidibi who both sustained injuries during the game against Guinea. But the tactician has not stated if they will feature in the final. He said he “cannot give any update about their health situation”.
The West African have kept four clean sheets in the last five games. They have conceded just once scoring three goals-all of them during the group stages.
CHAN 2020 FINAL
Sunday February 7,2020
Mali vs Morocco
Venue : Ahmadou Ahidjou Stadium