Mali captain Seydou Keita on Monday hit back at those who say his side will face an uphill battle against Nigeria on Wednesday in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations semifinals because the Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi has a good knowledge of the team having managed it for two years.
The former Barcelona midfielder said the outfit had changed since the Nigerian coach left in the wake of their debacle at the Angola 2010, and may have lost all the secrets of the team.
“People keep saying that Nigeria will beat us on Wednesday because their coach Stephen Keshi knows the in and out of Mali team having coached us in the past, but that is not true,” Keita said.
“We’ve had three coaches after Keshi’s departure and that should tell you a lot of transformation has taken place. Keshi, with all the respect I have for him, will meet a different team on Wednesday and not what he left behind. So tell him we have changed.
The Malian Eagles finished third in the previous Afcon edition under French coach Alain Giresse, and brought their peculiarity of knocking out host nations to the ongoing tournament where they defeated South Africa on penalties like they did to Gabon last year.
The 33-year-old, who now plays for Chinese side Dalian Aerbin,believes they could have an edge if Wednesday’s clash runs into penalties.
“I’m not saying we are the best penalty shooters, but we kind of have some luck in the exercise recently and we hope this will follow us, especially at these times when our people back home need joy and relief from the ongoing war,” he said.