LUANDA - For Mali and Algeria, today's second Group A match gives them a second chance to prove their true worth after indifferent starts to their Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) campaigns.
In the case of Mali a miraculous fightback to grab a point against Angola, having looked down and out and trailing by four goals with a quarter of an hour to go, masked a poor first-half display that had Mali's Nigerian coach Stephen Keshi shaking his head in frustration.
The Algerians, for their part, paid for an error-strewn, tepid performance 24 hours later when they were whipped 3-0 by outsiders Malawi.
Keshi says his side were shaken by the way they let Angola race into the lead, before the hosts crumbled later.
"The spirit was low after Angola," Keshi said. "The players are aware of the mistakes they made on Sunday, but it was a hard game."
Mali will have to tread carefully, with four players a booking away from a one-match suspension. The quartet includes Seydou Keita, the rising Barca star who bagged a double on Sunday, with Frederic Kanoute and Mustapha Yataboure contributing.
Algeria defender Madjid Bougherra blamed their shock loss to Malawi in large part on the hot and humid conditions.
"We'll have to bounce back against Mali, and it will not be as hot," he said.
Angola coach Manuel Jose is confident his players have the fortitude necessary to deal with any scars left by Sunday. The hosts return to the fray today at 11 November Stadium in their second Group A tie facing Malawi, the surprise table-toppers after beating Algeria.
"I think we'll be alright," Jose said yesterday.
But Malawi are intent on dishing out the same treatment to Angola.
Said Malawi coach Kinnah Phiri: "If we maintain this balance, we can shock the world."
The hosts will bank on Flavio Armado up front, while Josephy Kamwendo is a key player for Malawi. - Sapa-AFP