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Africa Cup of Nations

Afcon 2019: To become African champion, Mali have to beat the best teams – Kanoute

09:46 GMT+3 08/07/2019
Frederic Kanoute
The Eagles legend believes the West African nation have what it takes to beat Ivory Coast and go all the way in the continental showpiece

Mali legend Frederic Kanoute believes the current Eagles side have all the components of an Africa Cup of Nations winning side.

The West African nation will battle with Ivory Coast in the Round of 16 of the showpiece tournament on Monday.  

While the former striker expects a tough encounter at the New Suez Stadium, he has complete faith in this current team to defeat one of the top sides in the competition.

“If we must become champions of Africa someday, we have to face the best teams. And I think Ivory Coast are among the best African teams right now,” Kanoute told FootMali.

“I believe we have the strength to do it. In the past we didn’t have what it took to surpass Ivory Coast but at the moment I think we have enough quality to make it happen.”

Mohamed Magassouba’s troops ended the Group Stage as top scorers with six goals, and the icon believes that attacking threat will be their key weapon in getting the better of the Ivorians.

“With the huge attacking potential we have, we shouldn't be scared of any team,” he continued.

“Well, I think the game is not going to be easy, but it is the right time to show our strength and play a top game. We have players who can do that.

“At this level of the competition, all the matches are knockouts, and the game against Ivory Coast will be Mali's first knockout at this Afcon.”

Mali are seeking a place in the last eight of the competition as they continue their search for a first Nations Cup win in their history. Their best ever finish was in 1972 when they ended second.

The winner of Monday’s encounter in Suez will face Algeria in the Quarter-finals.