Mali were one of the first African nations to gain affiliation to FIFA, but they did not play a FIFA World Cup™ qualifying match until 2000, when they took on Libya in the preliminaries for Korea/Japan 2002. Over the years, the talented Eagles have often seemed destined to soar towards football’s summit, but, for one reason or another, they have never quite managed to get into full flight.
The current crop
If Mali’s last qualifying campaign is anything to go by, their wait for a FIFA World Cup finals debut could soon be over. Indeed, the Eagles were only narrowly squeezed out of a place at South Africa 2010 by the Black Stars of Ghana. But the Eagles' recent results showed this group of talented individuals is now ready to soar towards football’s summit, finsihing third at at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations in 2012 and 2013.
The key players
Midfield man Seydou Keita and Mohamed Sissoko remain Mali’s biggest stars, and they bring invaluable influence and experience to the side. Meanwhile, forward Modibo Maiga appears to be a ready-made replacement for the prolific Frederic Kanoute.