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Keita: Mali crisis ‘more important than Afcon

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Mali v Ghana - 2013 Africa Cup of Nations Third Place Play-Off

MALABO, Equatorial Guinea – Veteran Mali captain Seydou Keita on Monday said that the current crisis in his country was overshadowing football, as his side prepare to face Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations.

“We mustn’t mix the two things up. Football has nothing to do with the difficult things that we are going through,” said Keita, 35.

“These things are much more important than football.

“We are just trying to do our job and give people pleasure because we know full well that, when we win, it provides people with joy.

“But we can’t play down what is happening to us so we mustn’t mix it with football because football is much less important than what we are going through just now,” added Keita ahead of his side’s opening Cup of Nations game in Malabo on Tuesday.

The north and centre of Mali continue to be targeted by attacks from Islamist groups, who were routed from the area by a French-led military intervention launched in 2013.

They have has since been replaced by the UN MINUSMA force.

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