Mali makes changes against Eagles clash
Mali coach Alain Giresse has been forced to make changes to his squad ahead of Les Aigles’ friendly game against Nigeria in France on May 27.
Les Aigles (The Eagles) are also scheduled to face South Sudan in a decisive Group C Gabon 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on June 3.
Udinese’s Molla Wague (defender), Lille’s Youssouf Kone (defender), Toulouse’s Tongo Doumbia (midfielder), Nantes’ Birama Toure (midfielder) and Guingamp’s Sambou Yatabare (striker) have been ruled out of the clash against the Super Eagles.
Although Girese, who named 20 foreign-based and three domestic league players for the friendly did not give reasons for leaving the established players out of the encounter, it was learnt that some of them pleaded with him to leave them out to enable them to take a rest after a busy season in Europe.
Girese replaced the star players with Cheick Keita (Virtues Entella, Italy), Idrissa Traore (Vita Club, DR Congo) and Moussa Doumbia (Rostov, Russia).
The 63-year-old former Marseille star, who succeeded Henry Kasperczak, who left the job after the Eagles’ first-round exit at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea, also invited Gent striker Kalifa Coulibaly, who has been absent from national assignments for two years.
Girese, who is expected to tweak his lineup against Nigeria, will rely on French-born Crystal Palace forward Bakary Sako to inspire his side to victory.
Bordeaux striker Cheick Diabate, Saudi Arabia-based West Ham flop Modibo Maiga, Rennes midfielder Yacouba Sylla, Bordeaux midfielder Abdou Traore and TP Mazembe’s experienced defender Salif Coulibaly are among the players on Girese’s list.
Coulibaly, 28, who guided his Congolese outfit to the 2015 CAF Champions League, is expected to pair with Greece-based Ousmane Coulibaly as Mali attempt to stop Nigeria forwards Odion Ighalo, Kelechi Iheanacho, Ahmed Musa and Victor Moses.