Malian Success Stories
Mali’s maiden flights were highly promising, with a successful period between 1960 and 1972. After that, the national team went into decline and has only now recovered its optimism thanks to players like Diarra, Kanoute and Sissoko. In 1965, Mali reached the final of the African Games against Congo, a goalless draw following which Congo were awarded the trophy due to their being awarded a superior number of corner kicks (ten to Mali’s six). A year earlier, Stade Malien were losing finalists in the African Cup of Champion Clubs, a feat which was emulated two years later by Real Bamako. The best result in the history of the national team was reaching the final of ACN 1972 in Cameroon, which they lost 3-2 to Congo.
In those years, Mali had Salif Keita in their ranks, a forward who in 1970 was the first ever winner of the African Footballer of the Year award and played for St Etienne, Marseille, Valencia and Sporting Lisbon before finishing his career in the USA.