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Ghana vs Mali: Otto Addo begins Black Stars rebuilding with crucial Bamako test

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Otto Addo’s Black Stars rebuild begins tonight in Bamako.

Despite training for only five days, the Black Stars coach sounded confident in Tuesday’s press conference.

“Surely, I think we are ready for the game. I am very satisfied with how the players understood how we want to play,” he said. “This is going to be a tough match away in Mali but we also have the quality to compete against them although we didn’t have a good AFCON.

“We have the players to get three points from Mali.” He concluded.

His optimism, while encouraging, was strange. Strange because of the current state of affairs.

The players Otto Addo mentioned are not as good as he says at least not in the context of their Black Stars performances.

In 2024, Ghana is yet to win any football match, competitive or friendly.

Ghana started the year with an abysmal 0-0 draw with Namibia in an Africa Cup of Nations preparatory match. At the tournament itself, the Stars lost to Cape Verde (2-1), drew with Egypt (2-2) and drew with Mozambique (2-2).

Post-AFCON 2023, Ghana’s malaise has continued. A 2-1 loss to Nigeria was followed by a 2-2 draw with Uganda in Marrakesh. Those were Otto Addo’s first two games in charge.

In the past five years, Ghana has failed to beat teams like Madagascar, Angola, the Central African Republic, and Comoros – twice, first in the 2021 AFCON and last year in the ongoing World Cup Qualifiers.

AFCON-wise, Ghana has won only one match; 2-0 over Guinea Bissau, across the last three tournaments.
Moreover, Ghana has not won a match at the AFCON in a run stretching back to 2019 against Guinea-Bissau.

When Otto Addo announced his squad last week, he reminded Ghanaians that he ought to fix the team’s broken culture, and work ethic, and build cohesiveness.

But for his oath of secrecy, Otto Addo could have explained the extent of the cultural decay in the Black Stars. He kept quiet in keeping to himself. That is a position I am happy to take.

What should not be hidden or downplayed, is the extent of work that needs to be done. Cohesiveness is not forged in a day. Or in five training sessions.

It takes time.

By 2026, Otto Addo would have managed eleven competitive matches as Black Stars coach; the eight remaining World Qualifiers, and three AFCON 2025 group stage games.

At the moment, he has yet to coach a competitive game since returning. The five training sessions are all there is to draw from.

That is why Ghanaians need to be patient and allow this team to grow. That is not to say that it is out of place to expect a good effort. Far from that.
The broader point is that Ghana may well win this match and fail to win the next three as we have done in the last six.

It is an important match, yes, but context matters, too.

Current Standings

Comoros has emerged as the surprise package of the 2026 World Cup Qualifiers, having amassed six points from two matches. Their impressive run includes a 1-0 win over Ghana at the Stade Moroni.
After an impressive 3-1 win over Chad in November, Mali dropped points in a 1-1 draw with the Central African Republic. With four points from two games, the Malians are in second place.

Madagascar, who Ghana beat in November, has a superior goal difference to Ghana but has the same points tally as the four-time African champions.

On Wednesday, the Central African Republic secured a 1-0 win over Chad. That result means Ghana has dropped to fifth place in the group and needs to win in Bamako, to stay in contention.

The two teams have met a combined ten times. Ghana has won five of those meetings, lost on three occasions while the remaining two have ended in stalemates.

Ghana won the first-ever World Cup Qualifier between the two sides; a 2-0 win in Bamako with goals from Kwadwo Asamoah and Matthew Amoah. In the reverse fixture, the two sides played an entertaining 2-2 draw in front of 39,000 spectators at the Baba Yara Stadium. Ghana, who had already qualified for the World Cup, scored through Anthony Annan and Matthew Amoah.

However, Mali has had more joy in recent meetings, winning three of the last six with two defeats.

The Black Stars are winless in their last six matches; two draws and four defeats, while Mali have won three, with two draws and just one defeat.

Team News

Ghana captain Thomas Partey is available for selection for the first time in seven months. The Arsenal midfielder missed Ghana’s first two qualifiers in November, before being left out of the Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire over fitness concerns.

Forward Andre Ayew is not available for selection after being left out of the team by coach Otto Addo.
Athletic Bilbao winger Inaki Williams and L.A Galaxy winger Joseph Paintsil is also missing out through injuries.

Mali is also without Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Yves Bissouma.

Amadou Dante, Mohamed Camara, Aliou Dieng, Amadou Dante, Boubacar Diarra, Adama Traore, and Sekou Koita who were not available for the international friendlies in March, have all returned to the team.


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