CHAN 2016 Final: Date, Start Time and Schedule for DR Congo vs. Mali

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistFebruary 4, 2016

Malian supporters cheer their team during the 2015 African Cup of Nations group D football match between Guinea and Mali in Mongomo, on January 28, 2015. AFP PHOTO / CARL DE SOUZA        (Photo credit should read CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images)
CARL DE SOUZA/Getty Images

DR Congo and Mali will contest the 2016 CHAN final in Rwanda on Sunday, as the two countries battle for the African Nations Championship title. 

Mali have been one of the surprise packages of the competition, and their open and attacking style has won them many fans and advocates. 

DR Congo won the inaugural CHAN tournament in 2009, which is only open to players who play in their own local leagues.

Here are the full details for the final, including a match preview.

Where: Kigali, Rwanda 

Date: Sunday, Feb. 7

Time: 6:30 p.m. (CAT local); 4:30 p.m. (GMT); 11:30 a.m. (ET)

Match Preview

The players from DR Congo will hope to repeat the success of seven years ago when they won the first CHAN tournament against Ghana in the Ivory Coast. They appeared primed for achievement in this year's competition after comprehensive opening victories against Ethiopia and Angola, winning 3-0 and 4-2, respectively, in the group stage.

However, a defeat to Cameroon in the final group match saw the Indomitable Lions take top spot in Group B, with DR Congo settling for second. 

Like the Red Devils, Mali also qualified as a group runner-up, but they were only victorious in one of their three games in Group D.

Draws against Uganda and Zambia were punctuated by a slim 1-0 win against Zimbabwe, earning the Eagles a place in the knockouts, unbeaten during qualification. 

Malian fans cheer for their team as they arrive to attend the 2015 African Cup of Nations group D football match between Ivory Coast and Mali in Malabo on January 24, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ISSOUF SANOGO        (Photo credit should read ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty
ISSOUF SANOGO/Getty Images

DR Congo laboured through the quarter-final and semi-final, edging out host nation Rwanda after extra time and beating Guinea on penalties. 

However, Mali have defeated two of the biggest nations at the tournament, skipping over the huge hurdles of Tunisia and the Ivory Coast—two teams much fancied to make the final. 

The defence has kept DR Congo on course for a dramatic second success at CHAN, and people have praised their back line throughout. 

Football writer Collins Okinyo noted Joel Kimwaki, who has looked absolutely dominant in defence with Padou Bompunga throughout the competition:

The Congolese fans have also played their part in their team's success during the past three weeks, as highlighted by journalist Robert Madoi:

Ivory Coast's supporters celebrate in Abidjan on February 4, 2015 after Ivory Coast won the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations semi-final football match against Democratic Republic of Congo. Ivory Coast won 3-1 in Bata. AFP PHOTO / SIA KAMBOU        (Photo credit
SIA KAMBOU/Getty Images

The steel of the Red Devils has been matched by the flair of the Eagles, and many neutrals will be hoping to see a shock win for Mali. They have entertained throughout proceedings, and it was unexpected they would get this far, but their fanbase has swelled due to their progressive style. 

On paper, there will only be one winner of the CAF-organised tournament on Sunday, as DR Congo hold the depth of talent needed to prevail. 

However, their goal count has dried up since the group stages, where they scored eight in three, and they will have to rely on a counterpunch to down the expressive Malians.

The Eagles have the potential to fly high in the final, and if they can control their nerves in Kigali, they could pull off one of the biggest shocks in African football history. 

Impressive Congolese defender Bompunga will miss the final after he was booked in the semi, per BBC Sport, and his absence could tip the delicate balance in favour of a dramatic win for Mali. 

All stats per CAFOnline.com.

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