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Mohamed Magassouba, an interim who lasts at the head of Mali

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Appointed in 2017 to act as the head of the Eagles of Mali, Mohamed Magassouba has since been confirmed at the head of the selection. A charismatic builder, he is now unanimous before the Africa Cup in Cameroon.

For his players, Mohamed Magassouba is more than a coach: an advisor, a guide, sometimes even a father. At 64, the Mali coach has won the support of his men and the federation thanks to his experience and his ability to build a team. The African Cup of Nations (CAN) could be that of Mali, a solid outsider in the competition.

A career in Central Africa

Mohamed Magassouba seems to have been born to be a coach. He became very young, at only 22 years old, taking the reins of the Sports Association of the Hippodrome, a Bamako club, in 1980. He then went abroad to harden himself up, in DR Congo in particular. .

In the land of the Leopards, he directs Saint-Éloi Lupopo and the AS Vita club and above all, he lifts the trophy of the late African Cup in 1994 with the Daring club Motema Pembé, at only 36 years old.

A performance which in 1996 opened the doors to the national… Congolese selection! He took the Leopards twice to the final phase of the CAN: in 1998 in Burkina Faso and in 2002 in his Malian homeland. However, he will never participate. Indeed, each time, the Congolese federation chooses to replace him with the local Louis Watunda for the competition.

After a one-year detour in Gabon, Mohamed Magassouba decides to leave Central Africa, where he will have spent more than fifteen years of his life, to return home. He took the helm of Stade Malien but the experience was cut short, since the technician would be sacked after only one year of practice.

Two years of interim at the head of Mali

This will not prevent him from joining the technical staff of the Mali national team. A function that he will never leave, with the exception of a detour by the Jeanne d’Arc club in Dakar in 2010. First national technical director (2010-2015), then interim coach after the departure of Alain Giresse in September 2017.

During his career as an interim coach, which officially ended after the CAN in Egypt, he led 17 matches for a record of four wins, eight draws and five losses. He hoisted his team up to the round of 16 of the African Cup, where the Eagles conceded only a small defeat against the Elephants of Côte d’Ivoire.


What to encourage the Malian federation to definitively give the keys of the truck to Magassouba. He is finally officially named Mali coach after the competition. He made strong decisions, separating from stars Moussa Marega and Yves Bissouma – the latter, however, returned to the group for the competition in Cameroon. For the Malian coach, the collective takes precedence over individualities.

The matches made since taking office prove him right. During the CAN-2022 qualifiers, Mali qualifies easily with 4 wins, a draw and a conceded defeat when the team was already qualified.

Even more impressive, during the qualifiers for the World Cup-2022, the Eagles rallied easily in the third round with 5 wins and a draw, but above all no conceded goals. Two campaigns all the more breathtaking as Magassouba led them without receiving a salary from the federation for many months. Another coach would have slammed the door, not him.

Assets to shine

Defense is the main asset of its Malian selection. She had already proved it during the CHAN-2021 by not conceding his first goals than in the final lost to Morocco. FC Metz defender Aboubacar Kouyaté, RB Leipzig’s highly coveted defensive midfielder Amadou Haidara and Al Ahly of Cairo Aliou Dieng are among the key elements of the Eagles’ good defensive footing.

Mohamed Magassouba can also rely on his deputy, the former international Fousseni Diawara, who arrived at the same time as him in 2017. The former star from Mali is in charge of managing relations with expatriate players and binationals and both form an effective duo in view of the results.

>> To listen to RFI: Pod’CAN episode 6: two little ones in the big leagues

“The Malian selection is progressing day by day because we have started a construction in depth and developed a fairly solid defensive organization and a fluid ball circulation. There remains the finish, but no team is perfect but we are working on it”, exposes he on RFI, in the Pod’CAN podcast. “We want to go as far as possible.”

For his first match in Cameroon, on January 12, Mohamed Magassouba will meet another local coach, Mondher Kebaier, in charge of Tunisia. Eagles of Mali vs. Eagles of Carthage, such a duel would have its place at the highest altitude of the competition, on February 6.

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