Temps de lecture : 2 mn 🕗
BAMAKO (Mali) – The No.1 team in Africa head to Antananarivo aiming to increase their trophy cabinet, but the two-time defending champions have some a few hurdles to overcome to make history.
With five podium finishes in the last five editions of the FIBA U18 African Championship, Mali have arguably become the most consistent program in recent times.
They have won their two continental trophy at home (2018) and away (2020), but Madagascar emerges as challenges for Mali as they will need to overcome the likes of Egypt, Senegal and Angola – a trio of former African champions.
What’s so special about the reigning African champions? Below is a fact file that helps explain why Mali currently sit as Africa’s No. 1 team.
FIBA Ranking U18 Boys: 15th (World), 1st (Africa)
Last participation at U18 African Championship: 2020
Best result at U18 African Championship: African champions in 2018 and 2020
How they qualified for the 2022 U18 African Championship: Mali qualified by virtue of winning the last edition of the FIBA U18 African Championship.
World: Mali have featured in the last two editions of the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup.
History/Qualification: Mali have competed in the last eight editions of the FIBA U18 African Championship
Head Coach: Moussa Cisse has recently been appointed head coach of Mali U18 team. He replaced two-time African champion Alhadji Dicko, who made history by helping Mali reach the Final of the 2019 FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup.
Kanoute Sega (left) is seen here alongside former coach Alhadji Dicko during the 2020 FIBA U18 African Championship
Kanoute Sega, who served as assistant coach to the 2020 Mali winning team, remains in his position.
Outlook: There is no question which the team to beat is in Antananarivo. All eyes are on winners of the last two editions of the FIBA U18 African Championship Mali, a team that showed a tremendous fighting spirit two years ago to defend their continental title.
In 2020, Mali started with a three-game losing streak, but in a turn of events, the West Africans stepped up when few expected to beat hosts Egypt in the semis before outlasting Senegal 82-80 in the Championship Game on December 9, 2020 in Cairo.
Mali won the 2018 U18 African Championship on home soil after beating Senegal in the Final
Mali’s success in the Egyptian capital was unique as it was the first one to see a team crowned African champions despite their 2-3 mark. It’s important to mention that only four teams took part in the last African Championship (Egypt, Guinea, Mali and Senegal) , which highly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, it remains to be known if Mali can become the first team – since Nigeria – to win a three-peat since 2002.
If Mali win this year’s U18 African Championship, under a new coach, they may be regarded as the greatest team of the last decade.