2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers: Mali v Ghana Preview

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Black Stars team

The Black Stars of Ghana will face Mali today, Thursday, June 6 in the third match of the 2026 World Cup qualifiers.
After a disappointing Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) campaign in Ivory Coast, the four-time African champions are under pressure to return to winning ways. Their poor performance led to the sacking of coach Chris Hughton after they were eliminated in the group stage for the second consecutive time.
Ghana began their qualifiers with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Madagascar at the Baba Yara Stadium, with Inaki Williams scoring a late goal. However, they then suffered a shocking 1-0 defeat to Comoros in Moroni in the first two matches under former coach Chris Hughton.

Earlier this year, Otto Addo was appointed on a 34-month contract, with an option for an additional 24 months. His appointment has brought a sense of calm to the team.
However, in his first two matches in March against Nigeria and Uganda, the Black Stars lost 1-0 to the Super Eagles and were held to a 2-2 draw by the Cranes of Uganda.
These results have extended Ghana’s winless run in all competitions to seven games. They have not won an away match in their last 11 outings, dating back to September 2022, when they defeated Nicaragua.
The Black Stars officially opened camp on Thursday in Accra and trained for five days before departing for Bamako on Tuesday evening for the much-anticipated match. Ghana currently sits 5th in Group I with just three points, following Central African Republic’s 1-0 win over Chad on Wednesday evening.
Otto Addo’s team needs a victory to enhance their chances of qualifying for the 2026 World Cup, which will be held in the USA, Canada, and Mexico.
Despite the team’s recent struggles, former Ghana international Otto Addo expressed confidence after announcing his squad. He emphasized that the objective remains to qualify for the global tournament.
“The aim is to qualify. It will be difficult, especially in the away game with Mali. They have a very good squad,” Addo said. “What I want to assess is the way we play. We will have good and bad times. We showed that when we played against Nigeria and in the World Cup we played good football. At the end, it is a result of sport. I will be judged by the results.”
In the last nine encounters between the two teams, Ghana has recorded four wins, while Mali has three wins, with two matches ending in draws. However, Mali, currently second in Group I with four points, has won nine of their last ten games. Their only loss since March 2023 was to the Ivory Coast, and they remain unbeaten on home soil since March 2022.
While Ghana holds a slight advantage in the head-to-head standings, the Eagles of Mali have won their last two home matches against the Black Stars, scoring three goals in each game.
Team News
Mali are set to be without their captain Hamari Traore, who is still serving the four-match suspension he received during the Africa Cup of Nations after he was found guilty of unsporting conduct towards the match official.
Tottenham Hotspur’s Yves Bissouma is ruled out due to injury, while Mamadou Fofana and Salim Diankate have received their first call-up and will be hoping to make their international debuts in this one.
Addo made headlines last month when he announced he had dropped team captain Andre Ayew and Baba Rahman while calling up several rising talents, including Ibrahim Sulemana and Brandon Thomas-Asante.
Athletic Bilbao striker Inaki Williams, as well as Joseph Paintsil, Majeed Ashimeru, Baba Iddrisu, Daniel Kofi Kyereh, Denis Odoi and Daniel Amartey, were also excluded from the squad due to injuries.
Thomas Partey has been handed the captain’s armband for the foreseeable future and returning to the squad is Southampton’s Kamaldeen Sulemana, who missed the AFCON due to an injury.
Mali possible starting lineup:
Diarra, Sacko, Kouyate, Sagnan, Guindo, Coulibaly, Samassekou, Haidara, Doumbia, Toure, Sinayoko
Ghana possible starting lineup:
Ati-Zigi, Lamptey, Djiku, Salisu, Mensah, Owusu, Partey, Issahaku, Kudus, J Ayew, Semenyo
Where will the game be played? 
The game will be staged at the Stade du 26 Mars
What is the kick off time?
The game has been scheduled to kick off at 19:00GMT
Mali 1-1 Ghana

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