Mali defender Hamari Traore tips Eagles for 2019 Afcon glory

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Mali have never won the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) despite arriving at a number of tournaments highly rated

Mali defender Hamari Traore feels it is high time his country won the Africa Cup of Nations, after appearing in the tournament 10 times already since 1972. 

Having finished third at the 2012 and 2013 finals, Mali have established themselves as a strong outfit in Africa.

The Malian Eagles, who have already qualified for the 2019 Afcon, are tipped as one of the trophy chasers.

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Rennes right-back Traore feels a group stage finish would not be enough for his country.

"We must now think beyond this qualification and start focusing on how to do better than the last two tournaments," BBC Sport quoted Traore as saying. 

"Our preparation starts with the last qualifying game against South Sudan in March - we will play without pressure in front of our fans.

"In the team, we have talented individuals and collectively only a great performance will help us get way beyond our previous Nations Cup performances. Other teams like Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon have top players but we also have players who play in top leagues all over Europe. 

"We cannot worry too much about other countries, we let them worry about Mali instead by focusing on ourselves. There are several teams with great qualities and performances are very high in Africa. 

"But we can always compete against the best teams and the plan will be to keep fighting to do better than them."

The host nation for the 2019 Afcon is yet to be announced while teams like Nigeria, Senegal, Guinea, Morocco, Algeria and Madagascar have already qualified for the tournament.

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