AFCON Profile: Mali
Last Updated: 18/01/12 10:28am
Mali's national football team have never qualified for the World Cup, but have enjoyed some sporadic success at the AFCON
Mali, officially known as Republic of Mali, is situated in West Africa and borders Algeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Senegal and Mauritania.
The country has a population of around 14.5 million and the capital is Bamako.
Mali's national football team have never qualified for the FIFA World Cup, but have enjoyed some sporadic success at the Africa Cup of Nations.
PREVIOUS AFCON INVOLVEMENTS:
Mali's first appearance at the AFCON in 1972 was also their most successful.
Only eight teams competed at the event, split into two groups, and Mali qualified for the semi-final stage by finishing second in Group A, behind hosts Cameroon.
Mali beat Zaire 4-3 after extra time in the semi-finals, but then fell short in the final when Congo beat them 3-2.
After the promising performance in 1972, Mali were in the AFCON wilderness for over 20 years. Their next successful qualifying campaign only came in 1994 when they went on to claim fourth place at the tournament.
In 2002 and 2004, the Eagles managed to place fourth again, but were bundled out in the first round in 2008 and 2010.
Mali's AFCON squad is built on their players based in France - fourteen of the 23 players ply their trade in the country.
Oumar Sissoko, Adama Tamboura and Mahamane Traoré are team-mates at Ligue 2 outfit FC Metz, while Mohamed Fofana (Toulouse), Abdou Traoré (Bordeaux), Sidy Koné (Lyon) and Cheick Diabaté (Bordeaux) compete in Ligue 1.
Only goalkeepers Soumbeïla Diakité and Almamy Sogoba are based in Mali.
ONE TO WATCH:
Mali will undoubtedly be relying heavily on their captain Seydou Keita to lead them out of Group D, which includes Ghana, Botswana and Guinea.
The 31-year-old has 64 caps for Mali and has netted 18 goals for his country from midfield.
Keita plays his club football for Barcelona and has racked up over 100 caps for the Spanish giants. Since signing for the Catalans in 2008, he's won three league titles, two Champions League trophies and the Copa del Rey, among other achievements.
His wealth of experience on the club and international stage makes Keita an invaluable asset of the Mali team, and the team's success may be significantly influenced by his form at the tournament.
FIFA Rank: 67
Coach: Alain Giresse
Captain: Mahamadou Diarra
Nickname: Les Aigles (The Eagles)
Best AFCON finish: Runners-Up (1972)
Previous AFCON finish: Round One
Goalkeepers: Soumbeyla Diakité, Oumar Sissoko, Almamy Sogoba
Defenders: Adama Tamboura, Cédric Kanté, Drissa Diakité, Abdoulaye Maïga, Mohamed Fofana, Idrissa Coulibaly, Ousmane Coulibaly, Mahamadou N'Diaye
Midfielders: Seydou Keita, Mahamane Traoré, Abdou Traoré, Bakaye Traoré, Samba Sow, Kalilou Traoré, Sidy Koné, Samba Diakité
Forwards: Modibo Maïga, Garra Dembélé, Cheick Diabaté, Mustapha Yatabaré