Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2021 Group F preview
Group F preview action of the delayed 2021 AFCON starts on Wednesday with Tunisia, Mali, Mauritania and debutants Gambia battling it out for two automatic places to progress to the round of 16.
Sportsleo takes an indepth look at the group and what is expected to come out of the matches, set to be played at the Stade Omnisport in Limbe, South West of Cameroon.
AFCON appearances – 20
Titles won – 1
Head coach – Mondher Kebaier
Since winning their only African title on home soil in 2004, Tunisia has not played in another final. The closest they have come is reaching the semi-finals in 2019 Egypt, where they lost the play-off to Nigeria’s Super Eagles.
Heading to the delayed 2021 showpiece in Cameroon, Tunisia have some beam of confidence in their ranks. They have progressed to the final round of qualification to the 2022 FIFA World Cup and last month, reached the final of the FIFA Arab Cup, only losing to Algeria in extra time.
Tunisia qualified to the tournament top of Group J with an enviable unbeaten record, having won five matches and drawn only once. They only dropped points away to Tanzania.
For the Cup of Nations in Cameroon Tunisia have included young Manchester United midfielder Hannibal Mjebri as well as Arsenal’s Omar Rekik.
But as always, they will rely heavily on the leadership of Wahbi Khazri as well as Yiussef Msakni in attack.
Tunisia AFCON squad:
Goalkeepers: Farouk Ben Mustapha (Esperance, Tunisia), Bechir Ben Said (US Monastir, Tunisia), Ayman Dahmen (Sfaxien, Tunisia), Ali Jemal (Stade Tunisien, Tunisia).
Defenders: Dylan Bronn (Metz, France), Montassar Talbi (Rubin Kazan, Russia), Bilel Ifa (Club Africain, Tunisia), Oussama Haddadi (Malatyaspor, Turkey), Omar Rekik (Arsenal, England), Mohamed Drager (Nottingham Forest, England), Mohamed Amine Ben Hamida (Esperance, Tunisia), Hamza Mathlouthi (Zamalek, Egypt), Ali Maaloul (Al-Ahly, Egypt), Ali Abdi (Caen, France).
Midfielders: Mohamed Ali Ben Romdhane (Esperance, Tunisia), Aissa Laidouni (Ferencvaros, Hungary), Ellyes Skhiri (Cologne, Germany), Ghailene Chaalali (Esperance, Tunisia), Seif-Eddine Khaoui (Clermont, France), Anis Ben Slimane (Brondby, Denmark). Hannibal Mejbri (Manchester United, England), Firas Ben Larbi (Ajman, UAE), Wahbi Khazri (Saint Etienne, France), Hamza Rafia (Standard Liege, Belgium), Naim Sliti (Al-Ittifaq, Saudi Arabia).
Forwards: Seifeddine Jaziri (Zamalek, Egypt), Yoann Touzghar (Troyes, France), Youssef Msakni (Al Arabi, Qatar).
AFCON appearances – 12
Titles won – 0
Head coach – Mohamed Magassouba
Currently, they are regarded as one of the most talented generations of Malian football. The Young Eagles have made it through to the final round of qualification for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and with a hope of doing well in Cameroon.
Most of the players in the current squad have been together for a while from the time they finished third at the FIFA U20 World Cup in 2015.
Mali qualified for the Cup of Nations as Group A winners, having finished with 13 points from four wins, a draw and a loss. They finished ahead of a more experienced and talented Guinean side, just to show how good of a team they are.
For the Cup of Nations, the team will have midfielder Yves Bissouma back from a self-imposed national team exile. The Brighton midfielder is expected to play a starring role for the team in Cameroon.
Another player who will be crucial for the side is Southampton striker Musa Djenepo and the experienced Moussa Doumbia.
Mali AFCON squad
Goalkeepers: Djigui Diarra (Young Africans, Tanzania), Ismael Diawara (Malmo, Sweden), Ibrahima Mounkoro (TP Mazembe, DR Congo).
Defenders: Senou Coulibaly (Dijon, France), Mamadou Fofana (Amiens, France), Massadio Haidara (Racing Lens, France), Boubacar Kiki Kouyate (Metz, France), Falaye Sacko (Vitoria Guimaraes, Portugal), Issiaka Samake (Horoya, Guinea), Moussa Sissako (Standard Liege, Belgium), Charles Traore (Nantes, France), Hamari Traore (Stade Rennes, France).
Midfielders: Yves Bissouma (Brighton and Hove Albion, England), Mohamed Camara (RB Salzburg, Austria), Lassana Coulibaly (Salernitana, Italy), Aliou Dieng (Al Ahly, Egypt), Amadou Haidara (RB Leipzig, Germany), Romenigue Kouame (Troyes, France), Diadie Samassekou (Hoffenheim, Germany), Adama ‘Noss’ Traore (Hatayspor, Turkey), Hamidou Traore (Giresunspor, Turkey).
Forwards: Kalifa Coulibaly (Nantes, France), Moussa Doumbia (Stade Reims, France), Moussa Djenepo (Southampton, France), Ibrahima Kone (Sarpsborg, Norway), Lassine Sinayoko (AJ Auxerre, France), Adama “Malouda” Traore (Sheriff Tiraspol, Moldova), El Bilal Toure (Stade Reims, France).
AFCON appearances – 2
Titles won – 0
Head coach – Didier Gomes da Rosa
Playing in their second consecutive Cup of Nations, Mauritania are looking to make a mark. They have also just recently made managerial changes, the long serving Corentin Martins being shown the door after the team’s poor performance in the qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The tactician has his work cut out with the Mauritanians in a tough group and hopeful of qualification to the next round after a group stage exit in the last Cup of Nations, their debut in Egypt.
They qualified for their second straight Cup of Nations appearance after finishing second in Group E behind winners Morocco. Mauritania won two matches, drew three and lost one.
Among the players to be watched out for in the Mauritanian side include striker Aboubakar Kamara.
Mauritania AFCON squad:
Goalkeepers: Babacar Diop (FC Nouadhibou, Mauritania), Mbacke Ndiaye (Nouakchott Kings, Mauritania), Mohamed El Mokhtar (AS Douanes, Mauritania).
Defenders: Abdoul Ba (Al Ahli, Libya), Diadie Diarra (Goal FC, France), El Hassen Houbeibib (Al Zawaraa, Iraq), Harouna Abou Demba (Unattached), Souleymane Karamoko (Nancy, France), Aly Abeid (Valenciennes, France), Houssen Abderrahmane (Royal Francs Borains, Belgium), Abdoulkader Thiam (US Boulogne, France).
Midfielders: Mohamed Dellah Yali (Unattached), Guessouma Fofana (Cluj, Romania), Ibrehima Coulibaly (Le Mans, France), Khassa Camara (NorthEast United FC, India), Almike Moussa Ndiaye (Goal FC, France), Yacoub Sidi Ethmane (AS Vita, DR Congo), Mohsen Bodda (FC Nouadhibou, Mauritania), Abdallahi Mahmoud (NK Istra, Croatia), Mohamed Soueid (FC Nouadhibou, Mauritania), Beyatt Lekweiry (AS Douanes, Mauritania).
Forwards: Aboubakar Kamara (Aris Thessaloniki, Greece), Hemeya Tanjy (FC Nouadhibou, Mauritania), Oumar Camara (Beroe Stara Zagora, Bulgaria), Adama Ba (RS Berkane, Morocco), Souleymane Doukara (Giresunspor Kulubu, Turkey), Idrissa Thiam (ASAC Concorde, Mauritania), Pape Ibnou Ba (Le Havre, France).
AFCON appearances – 1
Titles won – 0
Head coach – Tom Saintfiet
Belgian Tom Saintfiet delivered what looked like a dream for the Smiling Coast of Africa when he guided them to their first ever appearance at the Cup of Nations as they finished as Group D winners in the qualifiers ahead of Gabon, DR Congo and Angola.
Gambia won three matches, drew one and lost two, same as Gabon, but had scored more goals.
It was a golden year for Gambia as their Under-20 team finished third at the AFCON U20 tournament staged in Mauritania.
The Belgian coach is now hoping that his side can do well in Cameroon, though he has cautioned against raising hope to the level of building pressure on his charges.
Gambia has put together a talented and heavily able squad and should not be taken lightly. Among the players to watch in the Gambian side include Sampdoria defender Omar Colley, Roma midfielder Ebrima Darboe and Bologna’s Musa Barrow.
Gambia AFCON squad:
Goalkeepers: Baboucarr Gaye (Rot-Weiss Koblenz, Germany), Sheikh Sibi (Virtus Verona, Italy), Modou Jobe (Black Leopards, South Africa).
Defenders: Pa Modou Jagne (FC Dietikon, Switzerland), Omar Colley (Sampdoria, Italy), James Gomez (AC Horsens, Denmark), Noah Sonko Sundberg (Ostersund, Sweden), Bubacarr Sanneh (Unattached), Ibou Touray (Salford City, England), Saidy Janko (Real Valladolid, Spain), Mohammed Mbye (Solvesborg, Sweden).
Midfielders: Ebrima Sohna (Fortune FC, The Gambia), Dawda Ngum (Bronshoj, Denmark), Sulayman Marreh (Gent, Belgium), Ebrima Darboe (Roma, Italy), Yusupha Bobb (Piacenza, Italy), Ebou Adams (Forest Green Rovers, England), Musa Barrow (Bologna, Italy), Ablie Jallow (Seraing, Belgium), Steve Trawally (Ajman, UAE), Ebrima Colley (Spezia, Italy).
Forwards: Lamin Jallow (Fehervar, Hungary), Bubacarr Jobe (Norrby, Sweden), Assan Ceesay (FC Zurich, Switzerland), Muhammed Badamosi (Kortrijk, Belgium), Modou Barrow (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, South Korea), Dembo Darboe (Shakhtyor Soligorsk, Belarus), Yusupha Njie (Boavista, Portugal).