Soccer News of Monday, 24 October 2016
Mali coach Alain Giresse is optimistic that his team will reach the group stage of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon despite the presence of heavyweights in their group.
The Eagles are scheduled to face seven-time champions Egypt, four-time winners Ghana and tournament returnees Uganda in Group D of the continental showpiece.
“It’s a tough group, and we will not set a target, but we will surely go through and go far, if even it means to pick the cup,” Giresse told Footmali.
“Others had Senegal and Algeria, with one group also made up of Morocco and Cote d’Ivoire, so we cannot say we are worst off.
“In view of the return of Uganda after  years, we can say that [they are] the Tom Thumb of the group.
“But given their performance during the playoffs, they are not a team that give the impression of coming to make up the numbers in Gabon.”
Mali, who won bronze at the 2012 and 2013 editions, will open their campaign against Egypt on January 17 in Port-Gentil.
The Eagles then have a meeting with West African counterparts Ghana four days later, before rounding off their group fixtures against Uganda on January 25.
The Afcon will hold between January 14 and February 5 next year.