Otto Addo - Black Stars Coach
Otto Addo - Black Stars Coach

2026 World Cup Qualifiers: Otto Addo faces tough Mali challenge Thursday

Black Stars Coach Otto Addo faces a formidable challenge as he prepares his team to face the Eagles of Mali at the Stade 26 Mars in Bamako on Thursday. The Ghanaians are in urgent need of a win to revive their 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.


 Following this crucial match, the Black Stars will host the Central African Republic on June 10, another pivotal encounter for their World Cup aspirations.

Two years ago, Addo led Ghana to a triumphant victory in a two-leg playoff against Nigeria, securing a spot at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. However, the current qualifying campaign appears more daunting. Ghana is currently fourth in Group I, trailing behind Comoros, Mali and Madagascar. A victory on June 6 is essential for Ghana to remain in contention.

The Malian side has been a challenging opponent for Ghana in recent encounters, including a 3-0 defeat in an international friendly in Antalya, Turkey, in October 2020 under Coach Charles Akonnor.

Beyond their historical clashes, Mali has shown significant improvement, reaching the quarter-finals of the recent Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) before a narrow 1-2 loss to hosts Cote d'Ivoire.

In the 2021 AFCON, Mali exited in the Round of 16 after a 5-6 penalty shootout loss to Equatorial Guinea, while Ghana faced disappointing group-stage exits in both tournaments.

Coach Eric Sekou Chelle has developed a talented and confident Malian side aiming for their first World Cup appearance. They have already secured a 3-1 win over Chad and a 1-1 draw with the Central African Republic.

Under former Coach Chris Hughton, Ghana started their qualifiers with a 1-0 win against Madagascar but suffered a 0-1 loss to Comoros last November. Now, under Addo's leadership, the team seeks to turn their fortunes around, having won just one of their last seven matches.

Mali, with a squad predominantly featuring France-based players, has had a solid year with two wins, two draws, and one loss in competitive matches. This includes a notable 2-0 victory over Nigeria in an international friendly in Marrakech, Morocco, on March 26.

The Black Stars are set to leave Accra on Tuesday for Bamako, where they will make their final preparations for the critical June 6 showdown.

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