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Mali must take opportunity, says Keita

Mali captain Seydou Keita is desperate for his side to reach an Africa Cup of Nations final and end their semi-final heartache.

On four occasions, including at last year’s tournament, Mali have tasted defeat in the semi-finals.

But ahead of their clash against Nigeria on Wednesday, Keita, 33, said it was time for his country to end that run of defeats.

“It’s true we haven’t won anything with Mali. We are in the semi-final. It’s an opportunity,” he said.

“I don’t know if it’s the last chance. I don’t want to answer the question as I want to play until I’m 40. I could play a few other African Cups.

“We don’t want to miss our chance. We are very close. It’s the fourth semi-final. We want to play a final, win something and lift the trophy.

“I knew that at Barcelona. If I want to live that with Mali, I could retire peacefully then as you said.”

Mali will enter the clash as underdogs against a Nigeria team which includes Chelsea duo Victor Moses and John Obi Mikel.

Keita believes if his team improve, they will go close to reaching their first ever Afcon final.

“I think it’s going to be a very competitive game. If we can improve our own game, it’s going to be very good for us,” he said.

“We don’t have any choice. We are playing in the semi-final.”

Mali coach Patrice Carteron said his players wanted to meet Nelson Mandela, but instead sent the 94-year-old a shirt.

“With the players we are aware we are playing in the country of Nelson Mandela,” he said.

“We talked about him this week, we wanted to meet him, we know it’s not possible so we just wanted to send to him a shirt.”

Wed 6 Feb, 2013
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