The Round of 16 stage of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations has proven to be quite exciting than the group phase.
The AFCON 2019 clash between Group D second place finisher, Ivory Coast and Group E table topper Mali, will take centre stage on Monday at the Suez Stadium.
Ivory Coast recorded two wins in the group stage and finished with six points after suffering one defeat to Morocco.
Mali have not lost a game as two wins and one draw against Tunisia saw them top Group E on seven points.
Both sides are a high scoring side having scored six goals and coceded two each.
History favours Ivory Coast as the Eagles have not defeated them at the Africa Cup of Nations in four previous attempts.
Impressively efficient in reaching the knockout stages, Mali must now make history if they are to advance to the quarter-finals for the first time since 2013.
Ivory Coast ended the Eagles' run at the semi-final stage in 2012 and Mali will be hoping to break the jinx.
What they said
"History is for historians," the Mali boss, Mohamed Magassouba, told reporters at his pre-match news conference.
"We are footballers, not historians. At some point, everyone has to write their own story. Tomorrow is another page we will write and we hope to make the most of it.
"We have prepared a team to play at this tournament and we are convinced that we have quality. We are confident of continuing our adventure."
Ivory Coast coach
"We will approach the match against Mali in a combative state of mind," Head coach Ibrahim Kamara assured
"We know there is no second chance. It's win or we go home. The boys are ready for that." Kamara said.
Players to watch
Ivory Coast's Moussa Djenepo is one player to look out for after joining English Premier League side Southampton for a reported £14million.
In a squad stacked with a fearsome array of attackers, Toulouse wide man Max Gradel has stood out as the one constant for coach Kamara. The 31-year-old, who reached double figures for goals in Ligue 1 last term, held his place while Pepe and Jonathan Kodjia were dropped in the wake of a 1-0 defeat to Morocco, and rewarded the faith by opening the scoring against Namibia.
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