Jan 9 Factbox on African Nations Cup qualifiers Mali.
African Nations Cup record:
Previous appearances in finals: (9) 1972, 1994, 2002, 2004, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015.
Best performance: Runners up 1972
Drawn in Group D with Egypt, Ghana and Uganda.
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Coach: Alain Giresse
The diminutive Frenchman coaches a country at the Nations Cup for the fourth time, having qualified Gabon for the 2010 finals, taken Mali to third place two years later but disappointed with Senegal two years ago.
The 64-year-old has also coached at club level in Morocco and had two spells with Toulouse and a brief stint in charge at Paris St Germain.
But he is best known for his playing days, as part of a dynamic French midfield which included Michel Platini, and reached the semi-finals of the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.
Giresse played more than 500 games for Girondins Bordeaux and almost 100 for Olympique Marseille and earned 47 caps with France.
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Key player: Adama Traore. Age: 21. Midfielder.
Best player at the 2015 U-20 World Cup in New Zealand and has quickly graduated to the full national team.
FIFA's technical report described him as a technically outstanding and highly intelligent midfielder who shaped his team's play.
Made his Ligue 1 debut at Lille before being sold to Monaco in mid-2015 for a 14 million euros ($14.74 million).
Made his national team debut in Aug. 2015.
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FIFA world ranking Jan. 2015: 60
How they qualified: Top placed team in Group C, ahead of Benin, Equatorial Guinea and South Sudan.
Goalkeepers: Soumaila Diakite, Djigui Diarra (both Stade Malien), Oumar Sissoko (Orleans)
Defenders: Ousmane Coulibaly (Panathinaikos), Salif Coulibaly (TP Mazembe Englebert), Mohamed Oumar Konate (Renaissance Berkane), Youssouf Kone (Lille), Mahamadou Ndiaye, Charles Traore (both Troyes), Hamari Traore (Stade Reims), Molla Wague (Udinese)
Midfielders: Yves Bissouma (Lille), Lassana Coulibaly (Bastia), Mamoutou Ndiaye (Antwerp), Samba Sow (Kayserispor), Yacouba Sylla (Montpellier), Adama Traore (Monaco), Sambou Yatabare (Werder Bremen)
Forwards: Kalifa Coulibaly (Ghent), Moussa Doumbia (Rostov), Moussa Marega (Vitoria Guimaraes), Bakary Sako (Crystal Palace), Moustapha Yatabare (Kardemir Karabukspor).
($1 = 0.9498 euros) (Compiled by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town,; editing by Pritha Sarkar)