Tournament dark horses Mali will clash with the Democratic Republic of Congo in both teams’ final participation in the 2013 African Cup of Nations Group B action.
This mouth-watering encounter will take place at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Monday evening, kick-off at 7pm CAT (SA, GMT+2).
This match is a moment of truth for both sides. The DRC are winless after their two group matches. They currently occupy third place in the group standings with Mali just a point ahead and one place above.
Mali coach Patrice Carteron last week slammed referee Noumandiez Doue, insisting the Ivorian official prevented his side from beating Ghana in their last match.
The Black Stars beat Mali 1-0 last Thursday to enhance their chances of reaching the quarterfinals of the competition.
The result left Mali furious. But there was some relief for France-born Patrice Carteron when DR Congo, fancied to defeat Niger in the later match after coming from two goals behind in their first match to hold Ghana at 2-2, failed to spark in a cautious stalemate.
With Ghana meeting bottom of the group side Niger in a match concurrent to this encounter at Port Elizabeth’s Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, this match is most likely to award the victor a place behind the Black Stars in the group.
The Ghanaians are expected to beat Niger and win the group, leaving the Eagles of Mali and the Leopards of DR Congo with the only chance to take the runners-up spot.
Calude Le Roy’s charges have to win this match to stay in the tournament. A third consecutive draw will not be enough for the Leopards as they are currently behind Ghana and Mali.
Mali can afford to draw the match as they have three points and a point more will most likely see them through even if Niger cause a tournament upset by beating Ghana.
DRC have to take the match to Mali and the Congolese will most likely go for an attacking line-up.
The Leopards failed to qualify for the three previous editions of the Africa Cup of Nations and as such just making it to South Africa was considered a tremendous achievement.
DR Congo's team does boast a number of European-based players.
The men from Congo might suffer from inexperience whilst the Malians are the same outfit that finished third at the last edition in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon in 2012 and are aiming to play in the first final in 41 years and win their maiden Afcon title.