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After the somewhat farcical stake and repayment of the two 0-0 draws on Saturday, I’m hoping we can get going properly on Sunday. Certainly Ghana should be able to take the Leopards of Congo in the early game, and I would hope the same of (my boys) Mali would be too strong for the Dama Gazelles of Niger in the evening kick off.

Mali’s strength lies in the midfield nowadays, Momo Sissoko, and the more-familiar-to-English-viewers Diarra of QPR being two powerhouses in the middle of the park. They’ve been playing well recently, creating, scoring and winning games, all of which bodes well for the Eagles, who finished third last time out, but always seem to come up short when it really matters. They’ll be up against a stubborn and defensive Niger outfit, who won’t be the novices they were last time out. Their form has been indifferent since qualifying and, I would say, with only two of their squad based in Europe (one in France, the other Sweden) their qualities are yet to be fully appreciated on the bigger stage.

Judging by yesterday, I think we’ll be looking at two tentative teams this evening. Mali need to get going with a win, really, because the big game is the Ghana game, and it’ll be imperative to get maximum points in the other two games – Ghana may well already have won by the time this game comes around. Their goal threat is potent, though, and in Diakite, they have a striker in no shortage of form. I think… I hope, certainly, that the tension doesn’t stagnate them like South Africa were, and they can edge past what I expect to be a well organised and compact Niger.

Mali to win 2-0 @ 5/1

Diakite FGS @ 15/4

Scorecast @ 14/1

None of those represent particularly good value, but I’ve penned myself in a corner and it is only 10p per bet, so I won’t be losing much if they don’t come in.

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