Mali U-20 men’s national football team coach Baye Ba says his team will take each match as it comes ahead of their 2017 U-20 Group A opening match with Egypt on Sunday.
Ba told fazfootball.com that there was a lot of expectation placed on his team following good performance in the previous edition held in Senegal when they finished fourth.
Ba who was elevated from the U-17national team has brought to Zambia, thirteen of his protégés with whom he won the 2015 U-17 Africa Cup of Nations and went on to reach the finals of the Fifa U-17 World Cup held in Chile in the same year.
The thirteen players include two goalkeepers Samuel Diarra and Drissa Kouyate while there are also two defenders in captain Abdoul Dante of Anderleccht in Belgium and Mamadou Fofana who plies his trade with Alanyyaspor in Turkey.
Midfielders include Dramane Simpara (CS Duguwolofila/Mali), Mamadou Sangare (AS Real de Bamako), Moussa Diakite (ASKO/Mali), Amadou Haidara (Red Bull Salzburg/Austria), Sidiki Maiga (AD Alcoran/Spain) and Zoumana Simpara (AS Bakary-Djan de Broueli/Mali).
The list of experienced players is completed by forwards Boubacar Traore (Jean d’Arc de Bamako/Mali), Sekou Koita (Red Bull Salzburg/Austria) and Ousmane Diakite (Red Bull Salzburg/Austria).
Ba said that he had a lot of experienced players in his squad with ten of them playing in the Malian top division.
“The objective is to win the title but we are going to take each match as it comes starting with Egypt. We cannot talk about winning the championship before we get past the first hurdle. We are always favourites but we have to play on the pitch; our first objective is to qualify for the Fifa U-20 World Cup in South Korea and after that we can aim for the title.”
Mali’s match with Egypt starts at 18h00 and comes up immediately after the Group A opener between hosts Zambia and Guinea.