Match - Sun 24 March, 15:30, Kigali
Mali without four key stars
Mali will head to Rwanda on Sunday as the favourites to win
The powerfully-built Queen’s Park Rangers midfielder Samba Diakite is joined on the sidelines by goalkeeper Mamadou Samassa, who was also in the squad at the recent Africa Cup of Nations finals where Mali finished third.
AC Milan’s Bakary Traore and uncapped Abdoulwhaid Sissoko of Brest in Ligue 1 have also withdrawn. Traore was recalled to the squad after missing the tournament in South Africa. Sissoko, younger brother of midfielder Momo Sissoko, had been called up for the first time.
Mali, who have called up home based replacements, have three points from their first two matches in Group H.
Hosts Rwanda have a single point in a difficult group but will hope for something from home advantage.
But they lost a warm-up friendly at home to Libya in Kigali on Wednesday, conceding a last minute goal in a major dent to their confidence.
But coach Milutin Srejedovic tested a total of 18 players in the game to help him determine the line-up he will field in the qualifier.