Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire won’t be problem – Kanoute
Mali striker Frederic Kanoute says his team can make it to the final of this month's African Cup of Nations in Ghana.
Both Frederic Kanoute and Mohammed Sissoko claim that the current squad of Mali will shock pundits in Ghana.
Kanoute, one of the finalists for the 2007 BBC African Footballer of the Year award, is optimistic of the Eagles' chances, this, despite being in a tough-looking Group B alongside Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Benin.
"We are outsiders but that is how we like it," Kanoute told BBC Sport from Mali's camping base in the United Arab Emirates.
"We are desperate to get to the final this year, because we have twice been in the semis but never further than that.
"It's going to be competitive because the group is very tough."
Mali reached their only Nations Cup final in 1972 where they eventually lost 3-2 to Congo and the 30-year-old Sevilla striker believes they have their work cut out this time around.
"Unlike the likes of Ivory Coast and Nigeria, we have good players but we don't have 20 world class players.
"They have competition in all positions. But we make up for that by being very close together and I am confident we can go far," said Kanoute.
For his part, Liverpool Midfielder Momo Sissoko said he was aware of the dangers ahead: "We've got a really tough group and it will be difficult just to get through.
"We know it will be tough just to progress in the tournament but we know if we play to our potential we have a good chance.
"We need to work extra hard because we are facing players like Didier Drogba who is one of the best players in the world.
"But we will defend our country and so far our preparations have gone very well."
The duo and the rest of Mali's squad are training in Abu Dhabi in the UAE ahead of the tournament which kicks off in Ghana on January 20.