African football has been on the rise for a few decades now, with some of the finest players we’ve seen in the Premier League stemming from the continent. However, there’s one nation that we don’t really talk about all too much when it comes to setting the benchmark – and that’s Mali.
Despite having several top names that’ve make a real impact on the British Isles, we, as fans, don’t talk about them as a footballing nation nearly as much as we should. Perhaps that’s arrogance on our part, but perhaps it’s also because as a nation they’ve never really made any noise on the international stage.
With that being said, hopefully the tides will start to turn once fans realise just how many talented players have come out of Bamako and beyond.
11) Yacouba Sylla
A few iffy seasons with a rapidly declining Aston Villa squad lands you rock bottom on this list, Yacouba. Image Source: Twitter
10) Modibo Maiga
There was a great deal of buzz surrounding Modibo Maiga when he initially made his way to Upton Park, and yet he was unable to live up to the hype. Image Source: Twitter
9) Kalifa Cisse
In terms of overall quality Kalifa Cisse was a decent player, but making his way to the soulless Madjeski Stadium seemed to have sucked the life out of the poor fella. Image Source: Twitter
8) Samba Diakite
There weren’t too many bright sparks in terms of QPR’s last few Premier League tenures, but what we can say for Samba Diakite is that he gave it his all. Image Source: Twitter
7) Mamady Sidibe
For years Mamady Sidibe was a fan favourite at the Britannia. Image Source: Twitter
6) Bakary Sako
Aside from being one third of the catchiest song in football history (thanks Wolves), Bakary Sako has also done a solid job since transitioning to life in the Premier League with Crystal Palace. Image Source: Twitter
5) Djimi Traore
There’s often jokes cracked at the expense of good old Djimi Traore, but at the end of the day he played a pivotal role in helping the Scousers lift the UEFA Champions League trophy. Image Source: Twitter
4) Jimmy Kebe
Reading fans rejoice, as the lord and saviour Jimmy Kebe rightfully appears towards the top end of this list. A winger by nature, but a true all-round leader of the Royals. Image Source: Twitter
3) Mahamadou Diarra
From Madrid to Monaco to Fulham in terms of location doesn’t sound all too bad, especially considering what a high end part of London it’s in. When it comes to football teams, however, you should be medically tested – and yet Diarra seemed to make it work. Image Source: Twitter
2) Frederic Kanoute
Some may question Kanoute’s Premier League career, but the forward actually had a few solid seasons for West Ham and Spurs before becoming an absolute star in Seville.
Image Source: Twitter
1) Mohamed Sissoko
It just had to be Mo Sissoko. On Merseyside the midfielder was an utter revelation, rejecting offers from the likes of Barcelona to stay and help guide the Reds to glory. Legend.
Image Source: Twitter
Right now it isn’t looking good as far as Mali’s qualification hopes for the 2018 World Cup are concerned, but there’s still cause for optimism heading into the future. Plus if all else fails, they can always look back on their past achievements and players of years gone by with a smile. Kind of like Liverpool.