Mali vs Cameroon | Tuesday 20 January | Malabo | 21:00
Mali and Cameroon will lock horns in what looks to be a tight affair. Four-time African champions Cameroon will be looking to prove why they are known as African giants, having not been involved in the AFCON since 2010.
To Win (90mins)
Mali come into the AFCON having finished third in the last two editions and will be keen to build on that. Seydou Keita is also likely to call time on his international career after the tournament, so he will want to end on a high. The Eagles finished runners-up in Group B during qualification, behind powerhouses Algeria, after winning three and losing three of their six matches. Coach Henryk Kasperczak surprised many by bringing in both forward Modibo Maiga (Metz) and midfielder Abdou Traore (Bordeaux) back into the fold, with neither having featured for their country in the last twelve months.
Cameroon endured a dismal World Cup in Brazil last year as they dropped out at the group stages having failed to win a single game. However, they have since been in exceptional form and went through their AFCON qualifying campaign unbeaten, topping their group with four wins and two draws. There will be extreme pressure on the likes of Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (Schalke), Vincent Aboubakar (Porto) and Benjamin Moukandjo (Reims) to lead the line as Cameroon prepare for their first major tournament without the lethal Samuel Eto'o.
VERDICT: Cameroon 21/20
Mali are ranked tenth in the CAF rankings whilst Cameroon are placed eighth. These sides last met back in the 2002 AFCON where Cameroon were 3-0 victors. Although the scoreline might not be as convincing, the Indomitable Lions are tipped to triumph once again.