The Mali national football team nicknamed The Eagles, reached the Africa Cup of Nations final in 1972 where they lost 3–2 to Congo.
The eagles failed to qualify for the finals again until Tunisia 1994 when they reached the semi-finals, an achievement matched thrice since, 2002, 2004 and 2012.
Mali made headlines in 2010 in Angola when the Eagles rallied back from 4–0to tie the tournament’s opener within 15 minutes with three injury time goals in a game against the host.
Following a series of poor results in the 1980’s and 1990’s, Mali re-emerged as a major force in African football in 2002 when they hosted the 23rd edition of the Cup of Nations, finishing fourth behind Nigeria, Senegal and champions Cameroon.
Two years on in Tunisia, Mali repeated that feat behind Nigeria, Morocco and champions Tunisia, but failed to replicate that when the continent assembled in Egypt for the 2006 competition which the host won.
When the Eagles finally made it to the next edition in Ghana 2008, they only managed a first round exit despite having depended on fine talents like Seydou Keita, Mohamed Sissoko and Fredrick Kanoute.
The team also exited at the first round of the 2010 event in Angola but traveled all the way to the last four before beating Ghana 2-0 to clinch bronze in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea in 2012.
Mali pitted in Group B alongside Ghana, DR Congo and Niger will play the latter in the tournament opener at Port Elizabeth, on Sunday, January 20. GNA