African Cup of Nations - Factbox: Mali

Factbox on African Cup of Nations finalists Mali ahead of this year's tournament in South Africa from January 19 to February 10.

African Cup of Nations - Factbox: Mali

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Mali defender Abdoulaye Maiga (R) and midfielder Seydou Keita during a training session (AFP)

Previous appearances African Nations Cup finals: 7

Best performance: Runners-up: 1972; Third: 2012

FIFA world ranking December 2012: 25th

Coach: Frenchman Patrice Carteron played briefly on loan at Sunderland in 2001, scoring from his defensive position in the derby against Newcastle United. The rest of his playing career was spent in France. He managed Cannes and led Dijon to promotion to Ligue 1 in 2011. Carteron lost his job just before the end of their debut season in the top flight as they went straight back down.


Goalkeepers: 16-Soumbeyla Diakite (Stade Malien), 1-Mamadou Samassa (Guingamp), 22-Aly Yirango (Djoliba AC)

Defenders: 4-Adama Coulibaly (AJ Auxerre, France), 5-Idrissa Coulibaly (Al Lekihwiya), 23-Ousmane Coulibaly (Stade Brest), 19-Salif Coulibaly (Djoliba), 2-Fousseiny Diawara (AJ Ajaccio), 21-Mahamadou Ndiaye (Vitoria Guimaraes), 3-Adama Tamboura (Randers), 13-Molla Wague (SM Caen)

Midfielders: 20-Samba Diakite (Queen's Park Rangers), 12-Seydou Keita (Dalian Aerbin), 6-Momo Sissoko (Paris St Germain), 18-Samba Sow (Racing Lens), 8-Kalilou Traore (Sochaux), 17-Mahamane Traore (Nice), 14-Sambou Yatabare (Bastia)

Forwards: 9-Cheick Tidiane Diabate (Girondins Bordeaux), 7-Cheick Fantamady Diarra (Stade Rennes), 11-Sigamary Diarra (AC Ajaccio), 10-Modibo Maiga (West Ham United), 15-Mahamadou Samassa (Chievo Verona)

Key players:

Seydou Keita (Dalian Aerbin). Age: 32 (33 on January 16). Position: Midfielder. Keita was a teenage prodigy at Marseille but failed to deliver on his early promise and spent time at Lorient and Racing Lens before moving to Spain in 2007. His transfer from Sevilla to Barcelona in May 2008 was valued at some 14-million euros and he played with the Catalans until last May, after which he left for China.

Momo Sissoko (Paris St Germain). Age: 27. Position: Midfielder. Sissoko has not played for Mali since the 2010 Nations Cup, first shunning subsequent call-ups following a disappointing tournament in Angola and then once reconciled with the side missing out because of injury. Mali are taking a punt on his fitness by picking him for the 2013 finals.

Modibo Maiga (West Ham United). Age: 25. Position: Forward. Played at the last two African Cup of Nations finals but at the 2012 tournament in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon he missed the later stages after contracting malaria. Moved to London in July from Sochaux.

Prospects: Mali have climbed to their highest position in the FIFA world rankings and have seemingly overcome the political turmoil after the coup in the country in March. They were surprise bronze medal winners at the 2012 finals and will expected to at least get through to the knockout stages again.

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