Barcelona midfielder Seydou Keita has admitted he is under pressure to lead a youthful Mali team to success at the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.
Along with skipper Cedric Kante, Keita is the most experienced player in Mali’s squad in Gabon and as such, much is expected of him –particularly in the absence of other established stars like Mahamadou Diarra and Frederic Kanoute.
“Personally, I have been under a lot of pressure but I will continue to assume my responsibilities,” said Keita, who spent several minutes giving thanks to Allah immediately after his team upstaged west African rivals Guinea 1-0 in a Group D match on Tuesday night.
“Yes, I’m satisfied with the result against Guinea. We played against a very good team, probably one of the best teams after the first round of matches in this competition.
“However, we need to continue to play as a team. A team who depend only on individual players will fail, but a team who are united and play for each other, will always win.”
Keita, who captained his country to the last four at the 2002 Nations Cup, has returned to the Mali set-up after a long absence caused by his complaints about the conditions around the team.
The 32-year-old Keita has now won over 65 caps for his country.