Giresse unveils Mali squad for Africa Cup of Nations

Seydou Keita (far right) with the Mali flag
Seydou Keita (far right) is being tipped to captain Mali at the Africa Cup of Nations

Mali's French coach Alain Giresse has finalised his 23-man squad for the Africa Cup of Nations finals.

Four players miss out for the provisional squad named in late December.

Auxerre's Amadou Sidibe is injured and had not been training in Mali.

The others to miss out are Ousmane Berthe from Jomo Cosmos in South Africa, Cheick Fatamady Diarra of French side Rennes and Turkey-based Souleymane Keita.

France-born midfielder Samba Diakite has made the final list and is set to make his debut for the Eagles.

"It's true this is my first time - I've been really surprised by everything and especially the welcome I've had," he told BBC Sport.

"This is a great team and there's a lot of respect in the team."

The 22-year-old is aiming high for the tournament in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

"The objective is to advance as far as possible and why not win the cup," he said.

"I think we've got the team to do it. I believe in this team and, God willing, I hope things are going to go well."

Barcelona midfielder Seydou Keita is being tipped to be captain at the Nations Cup, suggesting he has resolved his problems with the national football federation.

Keita did not play for his country for nearly two years before making his first appearance since the 2010 African Cup in a qualifier in September.

Experienced defender Adama Coulibaly is injured and was not even considered for the provisional squad.

The Eagles have now travelled to Togo where they will continue preparations until 20 January when they will head to Franceville in Gabon.

Mali will face Ghana, Botswana and Guinea in Group D at the Nations Cup.

Squad

Goalkeepers: Oumar Sissoko (Metz, France), Soumbeyla Diakite (Stade Malien), Alimamy Sogoba (As Réal).

Defenders: Ousmane Coulibaly (Brest, France), Idrissa Coulibaly (Esperance Tunis, Tunisia), Drissa Diakite (Nice, France), Cedric Kante (Panathinaikos, Greece), Mohamed Fofana (Toulouse, France), Adama Tamboura (Metz, France ), Mouhamadou N'Diaye (Vitoria Guimarães, Portugal), Abdoulaye Maiga (USM Alger, Algeria).

Midfielders: Seydou Keita (Barcelona, Spain), Kalilou Traoré (OB Odense, Denmark), Bakay Traore (Nancy, France), Abdou Traore (Bordeaux, France), Samba Diakite (Nancy, France), Mahamane Traore (Metz , France), Sidi Koné (Lyon, France), Samba Sow (Lens, France).

Forwards: Modibo Maiga (Sochaux, France), Garra Dembele (Freiburg, Germany), Cheick Tidiane Diabate (Bordeaux, France), Mustapha Yatabare (Guingamp, France).

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