Mali to gamble on fitness of Traore

Mali will gamble on the fitness of midfielder Mahamane Traore after already applying to replace him on medical grounds at the Africa Cup of Nations finals.

Mali had been granted permission to bring in a replacement for the Metz midfielder, who has a calf injury and was believed to be unavailable to play for at least 10 days.

But officials on Tuesday said coach Alain Giresse had decided to risk a quicker recovery and not replace him after progress in his treatment.

Teams at the Nations Cup are allowed to make injury enforced changes to their 23-man squad before they play their first game.

Injury-hit Mali have already been forced into two changes since the January 11 deadline for naming squads.

Mali open their campaign on Tuesday with a Group D match against Guinea in Franceville, one of the two venues in Gabon, co-hosts of this year's tournament with Equatorial Guinea.