Diaby not expecting easy progress for Mali in Africa Cup of Nations

Abdoulay Diaby believes Mali’s group rivals at the Africa Cup of Nations are operating “at similar levels”.

Mali, who finished third in the competition in 2012 and 2013 but have exited in the group stage in the two most recent editions, get their campaign under way against tournament debutantes Mauritania on Monday.

Further Group E fixtures against Tunisia and Angola follow, with Diaby anticipating close contests throughout.

“I see all the teams are at similar levels, that’s why every game will not be easy,” the Sporting Lisbon forward said in quotes on the Confederation of African Football’s official Twitter account.

“We are ready to face any team.”

Temperatures are expected to be above 30 degrees Celsius for the fixture, but Mauritania head coach Corentin Martins insists that will not unduly worry his side.

He said: “There’s no problem with the weather, it’s the same as in Mauritania.

“We have an ambition we want to achieve regardless of the opponent. We’ll try to make the Mauritanian people happy.”

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