Mali will lock horns against unbeaten Senegal on Sunday in the final of the Total U-20 Africa Cup of Nations in Niamey.
Both nations are going into this contest searching for first U-20 continental glory at the Stade General Seyni Kountche.
Both finalists, alongside Nigeria and South Africa, have qualified for the U-20 World Cup in Poland this summer.
Four years ago, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal represented the continent at the U-20 World Cup in New Zealand.
The Malians defeated Nigeria on penalties after a 1-1 draw in the semi-finals en-route to the final.
This contest has been dubbed a repeat of the opening Group B match which Senegal won 2-0 in Maradi.
Senegal’s coach Youssouph Dabo says the final will not be a repeat of the group encounter which his side won 2-0.
“Facing Mali will be a different match because it is a final. We have beaten them in the first game but, I said it after that game that they can go far so I am not surprised to see them in the final,” he insisted.
Mali’s coach Mamoutou Kane admitted his side were lucky against Nigeria in the semifinals, which he said was exhausting.
“It was a very exhausting match in the head and in the belly. Luck was with us so congratulations and courage to the Nigerian coach.
“For us, the goal is achieved we were the first team to have lost and, we are today the first to qualify for the final,” Kane told journalist after qualifying for the final.
The two teams will be searching for their first Africa U-20 Cup of Nations triumph with Senegal finishing second in the last two editions.
They narrowly lost to Nigeria 1-0 in 2015 on home soil before going down 2-0 to Zambia in 2017.
Meanwhile, Flying Eagles of Nigeria on Saturday, February 16 lost out on penalties to South Africa in the third-place game of the 2019 U20 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
After a goalless 90 minutes and extra-time, the Flying Eagles lost on bronze after Adamu Ibrahim’s penalty was saved by South African goalkeeper Walter Kubheka.
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