The Black Stars of Ghana face The Eagles of Mali in their Africa Cup of Nations clash today aiming to take control of Group D.
Andre Ayew’s penalty proved to be enough for the Black Stars to beat Uganda in their opening game but there is plenty of room for improvement.
And, according to the West Ham forward, Ghana are firmly focused on booking their place in the quarter finals.
“We are not interested about our opponents. We are looking to win all our games to top the group,” Ayew insisted.
Mali were, arguably, better than Egypt in their opening encounter and will be anything but a pushover.
GHANA-MALI in numbers:
GHANA’S 2ND GROUP GAMES AT THE AFCON:
1963-Ghana 2-0 Ethiopia
1965-Ghana 4-1 Ivory Coast
1968-Ghana 2-1 Congo Kinshasa
1970-Ghana 1-1 UAR (Egypt)
1978-Ghana 1-1 Nigeria
1980-Ghana 1-0 Guinea
1982-Ghana 0-0 Cameroon
1984-Ghana 0-2 Algeria
1992-Ghana 1-0 Egypt (D)
1994-Ghana 1-0 Senegal (D)
1996-Ghana 2-1 Tunisia (D)
1998-Ghana 1-2 Togo
2000-Ghana 2-0 Togo
2002-Ghana 0-0 South Africa
2006-Ghana 1-0 Senegal (D)
2008-Ghana 1-0 Namibia
2010-Ghana 1-0 Burkina Faso
2012-Ghana 2-0 Mali (D)
2013-Ghana 1-0 Mali
2015-Ghana 1-0 Algeria
GS: 25 GC: 7
Ghana has not lost her second group game since 1998…in a 2-1 reverse to Togo. (W 7 1D)
The Black Stars have not conceded in their last 8 second group games at the AFCON.
While drawn in Group D, Ghana holds a perfect record of 5 wins in 5 second group games at the AFCON.
Ghana has never lost to Mali in the group stage match at the AFCON. The two have met twice all ending in victories for the Black Stars (2012 & 2013).
Ghana has kept consecutive clean sheets in their last 8 AFCON second group matches…a trend that spans close to over 17 years.
Only once has Ghana scored more than 2 in a second group game at the AFCON…that was 52 years ago in a 4-1 trouncing of Ivory Coast.
MALI’S 2ND GROUP GAMES:
1972: Mali 1-1 Kenya
1994: Mali 0-1 Zaire
2002: Mali 0-0 Nigeria
2004: Mali 3-1 Burkina Faso
2008: Mali 0-0 Nigeria
2010: Mali 0-1 Algeria
2012: Mali 0-2 Ghana
2013: Mali 0-1 Ghana
2015: Mali 1-1 Ivory Coast
GS: 5 GC: 8
Mali has won just one of their 9 second group games at the AFCON.. That came in a 3-1 win against Burkina Faso.
The Eagles have managed just one goal in their last 5 second group games.
Mali has conceded at least a goal in their last 4 games played at this stage of the AFCON tournament failing to keep a clean sheet in none.
They have never beaten Ghana in a group stage game at the AFCON.
GHANA- 21st AFCON appearance..only bettered by Egypt (23) and Ivory Coast (22).
In all there have been 1230 matches played at the AFCON after Thursday’s Group B games.
A total of 1617 goals have been scored during this period.
The highest scoring country in the competition is Egypt with 154 goals scored in 91 matches.
Of the 90 games, Ghana has played at the AFCON…the record stands at 51 wins, 17 draws and 22 losses.
Ghana’s 51 wins at the AFCON draws her level with Egypt making the two, the countries with most wins in the matches played at the competition.
The Black Stars have scored 122 goals (the third highest scoring country) in this period while conceding 74.
Retired Ghana attacker Osei Kofi and current players Asamoah Gyan & Andre Ayew are the country’s top scorers at the AFCON with 7 goals each.
Both Gyan and Ayew can however set a new record with a goal against Mali which will take their overall tallies to 8.
Wakaso Mubarak has 5 goals and and can equal Abedi Pele (6) as Ghana’s second top scorer at the AFCON with a goal on Saturday against Mali.
Other ex Ghana internationals, George Alhassan and Wilberforce Mfum have 6 goals at the AFCON
Ghana is still chasing her fifth AFCON crown and none of the current Black Stars players were born then when the 4th title was clinched in 1982.
Mali is making her 10th appearance in the competition and will play game number 45 versus Ghana.
The Eagles have a record of 15 wins, 15 draws and 14 defeats in the 44 matches played at the AFCON.
They have scored 54 goals and conceded 59 within this period.
Their best ever performance was in their debut appearance in 1972 where they placed second.
None of the players in their squad were born then.
HEAD TO HEAD:
22 matches have been played between the 2 sides since their first meeting in a friendly in August 1960.
Ghana, then an emerging force in African football trashed their Malian counterparts 4-1.
The next three meetings between the two were friendly games until their first competitive fixture took place on December 31,1974.
The game was an AFCON 1976 qualifier which the Black Stars won heavily by 4-0…though they lost the reverse encounter by 1-3.
That defeat on April 13, 1975 was Mali’s first win over Ghana.
In all 22 matches played, Ghana has the upper hand with 10 wins as against the 5 won by Mali.
The remaining 7 have ended in draws.
The last drawn game between the two sides was in their last game played in a friendly in March 2015 which ended 1-1.
Saturday’s Group D clash will be the 5th time the two have met in a final AFCON tournament.
Ghana and Mali have won two apiece with no drawn games.
Interestingly Ghana has won all two group games the two have played at the group stages while Mali also got the better of the Black Stars in the two 3rd place play offs in the same competitions (2012 & 2013).
The two coaches, Avram Grant and Alain Giresse have met twice previously and this will be their third meeting.
The first was in an AFCON 2015 group opener when Giresse led Senegal to beat Ghana 2-1.
The other game was in a friendly match played between Ghana and Mali in Paris.
The game ended 1-1 after a Bakary Sako goal cancelled out an earlier strike from Emmanuel Agyemang Badu.
That game was in March 2015 following Ghana’s second place finish at the African Cup of Nations.
Grant will be in charge of his 8th AFCON match as Black Stars coach.
His side has managed consecutive clean sheets in their last 4 AFCON matches.
Ghana 3-0 Guinea
Ghana 3-0 Equatorial Guinea
Ghana 0-0 Ivory Coast (8-9 PSO)
Ghana 1-0 Uganda
Grants overall AFCON record stands at:
He is unbeaten in his last 6 AFCON games after losing the opening group match in 2015 against Senegal by 2-1.
Mali’s head Coach Alain Giresse is not new to playing Ghana.
The 64 year old former three time French footballer of the year has experiences playing against Ghana with national teams he’s handled.
As Gabon coach in June 2008, he lost one and won the other of two world cup 2010 qualifiers against the Black Stars.
Giresse’s next meeting with the Black Stars will be at the AFCON 2012 when he was coach of Mali.
His side was beaten 2-0 in the group stage but they got their revenge, winning by the same result against Ghana in the third place playoff.
He again met with Ghana as a Coach in 2015 when he beat the Black Stars with Senegal at the AFCON
Overall he has faced Ghana 6 times as a coach, winning 3, losing 2 and drawing 1.
Alain Giresse has a record of 5 wins, 4 draws and 4 defeats in 13 AFCON matches as Coach of Gabon (2010), Mali (2012 & 2017) and Senegal (2015).
By: Isaac Asempah with stats compiled by Michael Asare Boadu