Nigeria and Mali will kick-off the group phase of the 2017 WAFU Cup of Nations when they meet at Nduom Sports Stadium in Elmina on Thursday afternoon, kick-off at 15h00 local time.

Nigeria sealed their place in the last eight of the competition thanks to a 2-0 win over Sierra Leone on Monday. Moses Okoro and Moses Peter scored late goals for the Super Eagles to take them to victory in their last 16 knockout tie.

Coach Salisu Yusuf will be looking for an improved showing from his side as they target a fast start to the group stage, which will also see them take on Guinea and hosts Ghana by next midweek.

Mali also left it late against Mauritania, as they needed a late brace from Moussa Kone to secure a 3-1 win in their last 16 clash earlier in the week.

The Eagles coach Nouhoum Diane was pleased with his side’s showing against their neighbours, but says it’s “time for hard work and good preparations” ahead of the group stage.

Nigeria and Mali have met in nine previous matches, according to FIFA statistics. The Super Eagles have claimed five wins – compared to just one for Mali – and outscored their opponents 12 goals to five in the process.

Nigeria v Mali, head-to-head

Matches played 9
Nigeria wins 5
Mali wins 1
Draws 3
Nigeria goals 12
Mali goals 5