The Eagles defeated hosts South Africa via penalties to arrive at this stage and will face the Super Eagles in Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium having never defeated the Nigerians.
“The situation at home is beginning to be normal and we want to be able to bring joy to the people of Mali,” said Keita at the pre-match press conference.
The former Barcelona man is no stranger to Nigeria having led an Under-20 side to defeat their opponents when Nigeria hosted the World Youth Championship in 1999. That team had present Nigeria captain Joseph Yobo and this game has been tagged by many as a possible settling of scores between both players.
“I respect Yobo,” said Keita, “but tomorrow’s game is not going to be between the two captains, it’s going to be a collective effort of our team.”
Now in the twilight of his career, Keita has won almost everything at club level when he played for Barcelona but has nothing to show for years of service for the national side. Keita said that it’s something he wishes to put an end to.
“It’s true that I haven’t won any trophy with Mali but now we have a chance in the semi final to win something. We need to win tomorrow’s game and get into the final before then,” he said.
Keita will be going against the team of former coach Stephen Keshi, who trained Mali for two years and took them to the Africa Cup of Nations in 2010. Keshi has said he knows the team very well.
“It’s true that Keshi knows us very well and we know him very well too but it’s going to be a very tough game.
“It’s our third time in the semi final. We’d like this time to go further and to win it,” he said.