Mali will want to shake off the tag of perennial underachievers at this year's African Nations Cup.
Last Updated: 08/01/10 11:28am
Mali are the perennial underachievers of African football given the talent at the nation's disposal but the Eagles are determined to shake off that tag at the African Nations Cup in Angola.
Mali's greatest success in the continent's premier competition came in 1972 when they finished as runners-up despite making their tournament debut.
Armed with quality players who mostly plied their trade in France, the Eagles were tipped to go one better in the next tournament, but disappointingly did not qualify for the showpiece.
That failure to deliver on expectation typifies the Eagles, who have also never managed to feature in a World Cup despite containing several World Class stars.
Mali scrapped their way to securing a ticket to Angola after finishing third in Group D and will expect to reach the quarter-finals at the very least, considering that 14 of their 23-man squad possesses European experience.
One to watch: Seydou Keita
The 29-year-old has dislodged Ivory Coast star Yaya Toure from the midfielder at Barcelona this term and is currently playing some of the best football of his career. Keita has added goalscoring to his repertoire of skills this season finding the net six times in 14 La Liga appearances for Pep Guardiola's men.
Aside from his experience at club level, the midfielder boasts over 50 caps for the national team, scoring 13 goals. He also has a UEFA Champions League winner's medal to his name along with several La Liga titles.
Coach: Stephen Keshi
The 47-year-old is a legend in Nigeria having skippered the Super Eagles at the 1994 World Cup and led them to AFCON success in the same year as a defender.
He played across Europe and had his first managerial stint with Togo from 2004-2006. He coached the Sparrow Hawks again in 2007 before being installed at the Mali helm.