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Page last updated at 14:58 GMT, Tuesday, 18 August 2009 15:58 UK

Defiant Keshi eyes World Cup slot

By Oluwashina Okeleji
BBC Sport, Lagos

Stephen Keshi
Keshi insists the Eagles can still qualify for South Africa 2010

Mali coach Stephen Keshi insists the Eagles can still claim automatic qualification for the World Cup in South Africa.

Mali trail Group D leaders Ghana by five points with three games left to play.

But Keshi refuses to accept that the best his side can aim for now is a place at the 2010 African Cup of Nations in Angola instead.

Finishing third in the group, which also includes Benin and Sudan, would put Mali into the frame for Angola.

That seems their best hope after following an opening match draw by Sudan with a home loss to Ghana's Black Stars.

The way Sudan played against us, they can go and give Ghana a tough game

Stephen Keshi

Buoyed by his team's victory over Benin in June and a recent morale-boosting friendly win over Burkina Faso, Keshi defiantly told BBC Sport that "it's not over yet."

"The way Sudan played against us, they can go and give Ghana a tough game when they play them in a couple of weeks.

"Credit to Benin and Burkina Faso, they made it difficult for us. But we played very well, much better than we did against Sudan and Ghana, and I was proud of the players.

"Their attitude was great, it automatically buried the problems that have plagued our matches for some time and I still think the group could go down to our last game."

The former Nigerian captain added: "We've got to win every game and realistically, we're probably going for second place.

"But after a turnaround in the mood and return of key players from injury, we can go to Benin and Ghana to fix our own destiny.

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see also
Keshi hopes for Sissoko return
11 Mar 09 |  African
Mali, France set for tug-of-war
28 May 09 |  African
Mali face Samassa disappointment
22 May 09 |  African
Keshi ready for Mali challenge
19 May 08 |  African

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