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Three battles which will decide Morocco v Mali – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Africa

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Three battles which will decide Morocco v Mali

Yacouba Sylla of Mali challenged by Denis Iguma of Uganda during the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations Finals match between Uganda and Mali at the Oyem Stadium in Gabon on 25 January 2017 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

by
Graeme Jackson

Wednesday Aug 30, 2017. 20:00


AfricanFootball looks at three key battles which will decide the outcome of the 2018 World Cup qualifier between Morocco and Mali in Rabat on Friday night.

Walid Azaro v Mahamadou N’Diaye

Morocco have struggled for many years to find a striker who can burden the responsibility of leading their attack, and in youngster Walid Azaro they have a player who could be a star of the future. The 21-year-old Al Ahly forward will be eager to establish himself in the Atlas Lions side, but he faces a tough opponent in the shape of Mahamadou N’Diaye, an experienced centre-back who has been to three Africa Cup of Nations with the Eagles and is regarded as one of their current generation’s best defenders.

Mbark Boussoufa v Yacouba Sylla

Mbark Boussoufa is a hugely experienced attacking midfielder and Morocco coach Herve Renard will be expecting the 33-year-old to direct his team’s attack on Friday night. The man looking to stymie his efforts will be Mali’s captain Yacouba Sylla. The 26-year-old French-born player – who completed a move from Rennes to Panathinaikos this week – is tough in the tackle and covers plenty of ground. The midfield battle between these two players will be vital in determining the outcome of the match.

Medhi Benatia v Kalifa Coulibaly

Atlas Lions coach Renard scored a major coup by convincing defender Medhi Benatia to return to the national team. The Juventus centre-back will bring solidity, composure and experience to the heart of Morocco’s defence, providing them with the foundation to build the rest of the team on. Benatia’s direct opponent is likely to be Kalifa Coulibaly, a powerful striker who stands almost two metres tall and scored a goal in Mali’s 2-1 win over Gabon in 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers just a few months back.

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Three battles which will decide Nigeria v Cameroon – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Africa

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Three battles which will decide Nigeria v Cameroon

Kelechi Iheanacho of Nigeria (c) and Ramahlwe Mphahlele (r) and Erick Mathoho of South Africa (l) during the 2019 Afcon football qualifier between Nigeria and South Africa at Godswill Akpabio International Stadium on June 10, 2017 in Uyo State, Nigeria. @Kabiru Abubakar/BackpagePix

by
Graeme Jackson

Tuesday Aug 29, 2017. 19:00


AfricanFootball looks at three key battles which will decide the outcome of the 2018 World Cup qualifier between Nigerian and Cameroon in Uyo on Friday night.

Elderson Echiejile v Christian Bassogog

Elderson Echiejile is the veteran in an otherwise relatively inexperienced Nigerian defence and it will be the 29-year-old’s job to bring composure and discipline to the Super Eagles’ rearguard. One of the main threats he will have to deal with is Cameroon’s Christian Bassogog, the Player of the Tournament at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations. The 21-year-old’s speed, mobility and goal threat will be key to the Indomitable Lions’ hopes of upsetting Nigeria in their own back yard.

John Obi Mikel v Sebastian Siani

Nigeria midfielder and captain John Obi Mikel has only recently returned from serious injury, but such is his value to the Super Eagles that coach Gernot Rohr had no hesitation in naming him in his squad for these matches. The former Chelsea man will go toe-to-toe with Sebastian Siani, a mobile central midfielder who was a relative latecomer to the international game but went on to play the anchor role in Cameroon’s triumph at the AFCON earlier this year.

Kelechi Iheanacho v Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui

With Alex Iwobi set to miss the first match in Uyo due to injury, the burden of leading Nigeria’s attack will fall on the shoulders of Kelechi Iheanacho. The 20-year-old has yet to get into his stride at new club Leicester City and will hope that this international break brings him goals and confidence. The man trying to keep him at bay will be Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui, one of the stars of the Indomitable Lions’ run to glory at the AFCON. The 26-year-old defender will also be a goal threat from set pieces and notably netted twice in the finals in Gabon.

The first match between Nigeria and Cameroon is set for the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo on Friday evening, kick-off at 18h00 CAT. Join us on AfricanFootball for LIVE coverage of the clash.

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