Posted: Sunday February 3, 2013 11:38 AM

Mali footballers also show strength in adversity

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PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa (AP) -The Mali football team's resilience at the African Cup of Nations now completely reflects its country's fortitude after Seydou Keita led it to the semifinals with a fighting win over host South Africa.

Although its overall inspiration was clear, Mali's players and coach had initially played down the effect of the ongoing conflict at home and talked of the need to focus on football.

But Keita left no doubt that the battle to liberate northern Mali was now central to the team's campaign after it lifted itself from 1-0 down to beat South Africa.

The midfielder and captain wrapped a Mali flag around himself after the game, saying "it flies not only in the northern part of Mali and not only in the south of Mali, but also outside Mali.''
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