(Sporting Alert) – Nigeria will look to book a place in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations with a win over Mali in the semi-final at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Wednesday.
Event: Watch Nigeria v Mali Live Streaming on ESPN3.com
Venue: Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban
Date: Wednesday, 6 February
Kick-off: 10:00 ET
TV Channel: Live TV coverage on Eurosport and ITV
Nigeria stunned tournament favourites Ivory Coast 2-1 in their quarter-finals at the weekend, with Emmanuel Emenike and Sunday Mba scoring the goals for the Super Eagles.
Head coach Stephen Keshi will come up against Mali for the first time since he was sacked by that nation in 2010, and he’s looking forward to seeing his team play on Wednesday.
Midfielder Fegor Ogude is available after a one-match ban, the rest of the squad is healthy and despite getting the sticks from some of the Nigerian football fans, coach Keshi still thinks he’s got a good enough team to win the Africa Cup of Nations title this year.
“Somehow, the Nigeria fans don’t appreciate their players. But I know my team, I know their mentality. I know the boys I picked were right, I have confidence in them,” he said.
“Mali is a football nation, they have great talent. I have a lot of admiration for Mali’s team, for the players.
“It is a great shame what is going on in Mali. What is happening is something we should not be proud of.
“I know their players will be thinking about it, and that is where they are getting their power from, their spirit, their force.
“They are thinking: ‘Let us do this for our country’ and I think that’s where their force is coming from.”
Meanwhile, Mali will have goalkeeper Mamadou Samassa back after his suspension and he’s expected to return to the starting line-up against Nigeria.
Seydou Keita scored a second half equalizer in the 1-1 draw with South Africa before Mali took the win in the penalty shootout battle.
“The players have been taking it easy. We had a physically taxing match against South Africa, the players need time to recover,” Mali coach Patrice Carteron.
“It’s important for the players to focus on our next match. But first, we relax.
“The target for us has been to improve on what the team achieved last year and so far we are on course to doing so.”
SKY TIPS: Mali 11/4; Draw 21/10; Nigeria 11/10
Seydou Keita 5/2 to score for Mali and Ikechukwu Uche 6/4 to net for Nigeria.
TEAM NEWS AND STARTING LINE UPS HERE….
Nigeria: Enyeama, Echeijile, Ambrose, Oboabona, Omeruo, Onazi, Mikel, Mba, Moses, Emenike, Ideye.
Mali: M.Samassa, Diawara, Tamboura, Sissoko, K.Traore, Maiga, Keita, Wague, Samassa, M.Traore, N’Diaye.