Botswana v Mali preview
Alain Giresse's side must hope Guinea do not upset Ghana
Last Updated: February 1, 2012 11:07am
Diakite: Suspended for key tie
Mali have it all to do to qualify for the African Cup of Nations quarter-finals when they face Botswana in Libreville on Wednesday night.
Yet victory for Alain Giresse's men over the Zebras, who are all but out of the running after two defeats, may well be in vain if Guinea upset the more fancied Ghana in the other Group D clash.
A win for Les Aigles, coupled with a defeat for the Black Stars, would see both sides along with Syli Nationale all tied on six points with the two teams to progress then to be decided on goal difference.
However, if the Ghanaians were to do away with Guinea or play to a draw, Mali would only need a result and second spot behind Ghana in the group standings would be all theirs.
The Eagles, though, face the Zebras without the services of Soumbeyla Diakite after the midfielder picked up his second consecutive booking in Saturday's 2-0 defeat to Ghana and is suspended.
If Mali were to book their spot in the knockout rounds, Adama Tamboura, Seydou Keita and Bakaye Traore will need to keep their nose clean on Wednesday as all three are one caution away missing their game.
Botswana, meanwhile, have nothing left to play in the tournament but their wounded pride and an outside chance at continuing on in the competition.
Coach Stanley Tshosane, whose side need a massive win over the Eagles to qualify after they were thrashed 6-1 by Guinea in their last outing, insists Mali will have to work hard to qualify.
"No one did us any favours for us to get here. We worked to get here so Mali will have to work hard for what they want," he said.
"I have spoken to the team and I told them we cannot reverse what has happened, but we have to continue with our mission here."
Africa Cup of Nations Group A
Africa Cup of Nations Group B
Africa Cup of Nations Group C
Africa Cup of Nations Group D