Salomon Kalou: Former International Tips Elephants' Experience to defeat Mali in AFCON Quarterfinal

Salomon Kalou: Former International Tips Elephants' Experience to defeat Mali in AFCON Quarterfinal

Robert Abong'o
updated at February 13, 2024 at 11:54 AM
In this article:
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  • Salomon Kalou is confident in Ivory Coast's chances against Mali
  • The Elephants face the Eagles in the AFCON 2023 quarterfinal
  • Kalou urges the tournament hosts to leverage their squad experience

Former Ivory Coast international Salomon Kalou, is optimistic about his team's chances as they gear up to face Mali in the Africa Cup of Nations 2023 quarterfinal.

The Elephants are set to take on a resilient Eagles side at Stade de la Paix (Stade Bouaké) in Côte d'Ivoire on Saturday, February 3, with the aim of not disappointing their fans.

Mali, having maintained an undefeated record in the tournament and coming off a 2-1 victory over Burkina Faso in the last 16, presents a formidable challenge.

Salomon Kalou is confident of Ivory Coast's chances against Mali. Photo: Clive Rose.
Former Ivory Coast international Salomon Kalou. Photo: Clive Rose.
Source: Getty Images

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) and local schools hosted a "Kick and Learn" event on Wednesday, 31 January 31, bringing together African football legends to raise the importance of education on the continent. The event took place at Lycée Classique de Cocody, Abidjan.

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Kalou was among other African Football legends who graced the occasion.

In an exclusive interview with Sports Brief, Kalou praised the ongoing tournament as the best he has witnessed, acknowledging the quality of infrastructure and the participating teams. He stressed the need to invest in football academies and education to develop African football further.

Regarding Ivory Coast's prospects against Mali under the guidance of their new, younger coach, Emerse Fae, the former Chelsea forward expressed confidence, citing their triumph over defending champions Senegal in the previous round.

"They have a great chance. They beat the previous winners Senegal, which shows that we have a great chance to go far. With a new coach on board, we no longer have the excuse of a struggling team," Kalou asserted.

The Hertha Berlin man commended the team's resilience against the Lions of Teranga and believes their experience will be crucial against Mali.

As reported by the BBC, A last-16 thriller against Senegal ended 1-1 after extra time, with Habib Diallo scoring after four minutes and Franck Kessie equalising off a penalty four minutes after regular time in Yamoussoukro.

Kessie was the shootout hero, converting the decisive kick after Moussa Niakhate had struck the post with the third Senegalese penalty.

"The players showed great character against Senegal. Despite conceding an early goal, they continued to play well. The game against Mali will be different as Mali excels in ball possession, but our experience gives us the edge. We need to use that to our advantage," Kalou concluded.

Kalou retired from the national team in 2017 following their elimination from the AFCON tournament in Gabon.

The 38-year-old was part of the squad that won the title in 2015.

"I am 31, this is my sixth Africa Cup of Nations. I have been to a final and won another. This time things did not go so well. There are young players. I think they are the future of Ivorian football and I wish them good luck," Kalou said, as quoted by Modern Ghana.

Chelsea legend Salomon Kalou describes Nigeria as a 'dangerous' opponent

Sports Brief in December 2023 reported when former Chelsea forward Salomon Kalou expressed caution over 'dangerous' Nigeria ahead of the AFCON tournament.

The hosts were beaten 2-0 by the Super Eagles in their second Group A game on January 18, 2024.

Kalou predicted Nigeria would be tough for the hosts but remained confident of his country's chances.

Robert Abong'o photo
Robert Abong'o
Editor - Africa Team