Mali out to tame Aubameyang

Mali will have to tame the threat of Gabon’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang when the teams meet in Bamako on Saturday night for a 2018 World Cup qualifier Group C match at at the Stade du 26 Mars.

Mali’s group stage campaign got off to a poor start after they were beaten 3-1 by Ivory Coast in Bouake. Sambou Yatabare gave the Eagles an early lead, but they ended up being stomped by the Elephants thanks to goals from Jonathan Kodjia, Salif Coulbaly and Gervinho.

Gabon didn’t fare much better, after being held goalless at home by Morocco in Franceville. Two dropped points at home was a big blow to the Panthers in their quest to reach a first World Cup tournament and saw the dismissal of coach Jorge Costa.

In his stead, Jose Antonio Garrido has taken charge of the Gabonese team and will be looking to make up for their home draw with some strong results on the road, and he is lucky enough to be able to call on the goal-scoring prowess of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up front. The Borussia Dortmund forward demonstrated that he is in prime form by netting four goals in the Bundesliga last weekend.

Garrido is a little-known Portuguese who played for Benfica in the late 1980s and has also managed in the Middle East, most recently at Riffa SC in Bahrain. Such a late change of coaches means Gabon’s preparations have been far from ideal – and Bamako is hardly the easiest place for a visiting team to expect to pick up a result.

However, Gabon have a good record against Mali, with five wins (and just one defeat) from nine matches between the teams, according to FIFA’s statistics.

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