Diabate ruled out of Mali's Cup of Nations campaign

By Oluwashina OkelejiBBC Sport
Cheick Diabate
Cheick Diabate

Bordeaux striker Cheick Diabate is to undergo knee surgery, which will rule the Mali international out of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, according to his French club.

Diabate, his club's leading scorer this season with eight league goals, was last week named in Mali's 23-man squad for the finals in Equatorial Guinea.

Bordeaux announced on Thursday that the 26-year-old agreed to undergo surgery after consulting with a specialist in Marseille last month, accepting that it was "essential for the successful continuation of his career".

According to a statement released on Bordeaux's official websiteexternal-link, the surgery is urgently required to rectify a persistent knee problem which would leave Diabate facing an injury lay-off of four months.

Set to go under the knife in the coming days, it means Diabate's quest for a third consecutive appearance at Africa's showpiece biennial event has been dashed.

Beaten 3-2 by Congo in the final in Cameroon 42 years ago, the news will come as a big blow to Mali coach Henryk Kasperczak who is banking on the goals of Diabate to go one better this year.

Joint top scorer at the 2012 tournament with three goals, Diabate's solitary goal in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers came in September in a 2-0 home win against Malawi.

Kasperczak has called up Mohamed Traore as a replacement. The 26-year-old, who plays for Al Merrikh in Sudan, has played only once for his national side.

Mali, who have finished third at the last two continental finals, have been drawn in a difficult Group D along with Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Guinea in the 17 January to 8 February tournament.

The Eagles will resume an eight-day camp in Libreville, Gabon, on 6 January, and are set to face South Africa on 9 January and Tunisia on 13 January in warm-up matches.

They will kick off their campaign against Cameroon in Malabo on 20 January before facing Ivory Coast on the same ground on 24 January and Guinea in Mongomo four days later.

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