We want to bring joy to war-torn Mali – Keita
Mali captain Seydou Keita says bringing joy to his war-torn West African country will be on his mind when they take on the Democratic Republic of Congo at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban this evening.
Mali takes on the DRC in the do-or-die Group B match with the winner likely to play Bafana Bafana in the quarterfinals on Saturday.
Mali are second in the group after losing to leaders Ghana in their second game.
“Our aim is to make sure that we give joy to the 15 million people who will be watching us. This is our motivation as a team and we hope we can achieve that,” said the former Barcelona midfielder.
He said he was depressed by what was happening back home and hoped through football they could help bring stability to the country.
“I might be playing for big teams but seeing my people happy motivates me. I want to inspire my people. But as footballers there is nothing we can do as we are not politicians. We know that everyone is affected by what is happening back home and we are just happy to be here.”
He said their group was very tight and anyone could still go through.
“Our (aim) is to go there and win the game and forget about calculators.”
About his immediate future, Keita said he had not decided when to hang up his international boots and said he would sit down with his family at the end of the tournament to map the way forward.
“Only time will tell but no one is eternal and there would be a time when I will have call it a day. I will sit down with my partner and take it from there. For now my focus is on this tournament.”
Mali finished third at the last edition of the tournament in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea and Keita believes they can go all the way this time.