Saturday’s encounter is a matter of motivation after disappointments in their respective semi-final matches. The Eagles of Mali were thrashed 4-1 by the Super Eagles of Nigeria in the first semi-final match on Wednesday. It was the kind of result which left many baffled, as a much tighter match was expected.

But Patrice Carteron’s men failed to live up to the expected level of the match as the Nigerians walked comfortably into the final.

On the other hand, the Black Stars of Ghana, who were seen as one of the major favourites, missed out on another attempt to make it into the final after a 3-2 defeat to Burkina Faso on penalties.

The match ended 1-1 after 120 minutes and the Stallions were the ones smiling as they booked their first appearance in the final of the Afcon following a penalty shootout victory. Ghana’s regular starting line-up will change slightly with Mohammed Rabiu suspended. The injured John Paintsil is likely to stay out as well.

Kwesi Appiah will need to spend time psyching up the four-time African champions, who are clearly downhearted after another unsuccessful attempt at winning their fifth continental title.

Football fans on the African continent will be treated to a repeat of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations third place play-off on Saturday in Port Elizabeth.

Last year in Equatorial Guinea, the Malians stood tall after beating Ghana 2-0 to clinch the bronze medal. In fact, the Black Stars had beaten Mali by the same score line earlier in the competition when they met in Group B.

Interestingly, the two west African sides were paired again at the group stage this year. Just as in the 2012 edition, Ghana won the group match 1-0 courtesy of a Mubarak Wakaso goal from the spot.

Seydou Keita will certainly be the danger man for the Malians and it will be a major achievement for him to engineer the team to a second successive third place finish.

One of the things the Malians must guard against is how they handle the Ghanaian attackers in the penalty area. Ghana have won three penalties at the tournament which reveals how slippery some of their attackers are.
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