Africa: What They Said – Mali V Egypt

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\n \n Photo: Chris Ricco/Backpage Pix

\n Marwan Fahmy of Egypt battles for the ball with Molla Wague of Mali during the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations Finals football match between Mali and Egypt at the Port Gentil Stadium in Gabon on 17 January 2017.

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Alain Giresse (Head Coach, Mali)

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We came here to show our qualities. We respect all our opponents but we fear no one. Egypt has a big history in African football. They have won many Africa Cup of Nations titles and have huge experience. Mali has also played many times in the Africa Cup of Nations and on the field we will show that we are prepared.

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We enter the tournament with the spirit of competitors, and we know well what the stakes are. I know my opponents well.

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We played two friendlies to adjust our match plan and we are ready now. We are focused on our strategies and I believe all the players know that well by now.

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We have two injured players, Adama Traore and Sumeila Diakite. They are undergoing rehabilitation now and hopefully they will be ready for the next game. The rest are fit and ready.

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As coach, I have participated in previous Africa Cup of Nations, but you have to know that the Mali team now has many young players. More than 50 per cent of the team are at their first AFCON. They are in the learning phase, but they will be up to the mission.

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Yacouba Sylla (Captain, Mali)

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We are ready; not only for Egypt’s game but for the whole competition. I know we have many supporters here and this makes us happy. At the end of the day we’re in Gabon, not at home.

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Mali is a team, and I’m just one player out of 23. We have played together for some time and I believe we have the needed confidence to be in a tournament of this magnitude. The young players are integrating well and I believe they will show their qualities on the pitch.

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Hector Cuper (Head Coach, Egypt)

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What we seen till now is that all the teams here are almost the same. It’s going to be a difficult game as all the other games and I hope we can win.

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We are focusing on our tactics. It will be a tough game because Mali is a physical team. We will have our own plan that suits us. My strategy is to choose the best players to win, regardless of their age or experience. The one who suits my plan will play. We will be playing a game every three days so we can use many players. I won’t have only 11 players for all the matches.

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Essam El Hadary (Captain, Egypt)

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It’s normal that Egypt is back here (at the Africa Cup of Nations). We respect all the teams as they do with us. Our target is to win the tournament, but we are taking one game at a time. Personally, it’s my seventh Africa Cup of Nations and I’m proud of that. I hope that God grants us the strength to go all the way.

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We won three consecutive titles (2006, 2008, 2010) but this is history now. After, we missed the next three tournaments. Our aim now is to win the trophy again.

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We have some young players in the squad, but they play their trade in Europe or in Egypt’s biggest teams Ahly and Zamalek, so they don’t lack the needed experience.

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