Mauritania coach Amir Abdou has shown confidence in his side to produce a positive result when they come up against Mali at the TotalEnergies African Nations Championship (CHAN) in Algeria on Tuesday.
Lions of Chinguetti face their biggest test of the tournament so far when they play the Eagles in their last Group D tie at the Miloud Hadefi Stadium in the city of Oran.
Abdou, who is enjoying a 14-game unbeaten run since taking over the side in March last year, has admitted that after bagging a point in their opener against Angola following a goalless draw, they will be leaving everything on the pitch.
“We are working very hard and have allowed our players to recover as long as possible. This is a team that is enthusiastic that wants to achieve something. It is a team that is very ambitious and wants to be the best,” Abdou told the media in the pre-match press conference on Monday.
“We are optimistic about our next game. We know that we are playing against Mali who was a finalist at the last edition, so they are a very good side. Even though we have not lost in 14 games, we must be as humble as possible,” he added.
“We are trying to do our best and re-assess our tactics. Let us not forget that we are going to play against Mali. This is a very tough team. We saw that they were losing against Angola and then recovered to turn around the result in their favour. That kind of mentality is of a team that is very good so we know what we are coming up against.”
“Mali cannot be compared to Angola. Mali is a team that plays in a very aggressive way. This is a team that has shown strength in character. It is a strong team but we shall try to do our best when we face them tomorrow.”
“So far, we have figured out our strength in defense. We have managed to find our balance so now we will try to work on our offence. We need to do better to score goals and against Mali, we shall try to do that.”
Mauritanian midfielder Yacoub Sidi echoed Abdou’s message and said, “We are ready to play against Mali. Failure is not an option. My teammates and I are very ready to face Mali and we hope that we shall achieve success tomorrow.”
In what has been dabbed as a David vs Goliath matchup, Mali has reached two finals at the CHAN – 2016 in Rwanda and 2020 in Cameroon while Mauritania had lost all six games in their two appearances in 2014 in South Africa and 2018 in Morocco.
The Lions of Chinguetti earned their first point at the continental competition organized for players that feature in their domestic leagues when they held Angola to a goalless draw last week on Friday.
The West African derby between the two neighbours Mauritania and Mali is expected to produce fireworks on Tuesday at the Miloud Hadefi Stadium at 1600 GMT.