Ivory Coast manager Ibrahim Kamara has acknowledged the threat Mali pose and has called on his side to 'fight for our people' ahead of their Africa Cup of Nations Round of 16 tie on Monday night.
The Elephants had to make do with a second-place finish in Group D having ended behind Morocco, while joint-top group stage scorers Mali topped Group E with seven points after scoring six times.
Kamara’s men had a good group stage goal scoring record too, scoring five times, while they only gave two goals away (the same as Mali).
Speaking to the media on Sunday, the Ivorian acknowledged the potency of Monday’s opponents, but isn’t throwing in the towel against Mohamed Magassouba’s side.
“We are aware of Mali’s strengths, but we’re ready to fight for our people,” Kamara told the pre-match press conference.
“We know that if we don’t win we’re out. We’ll have to be focused.
“At this stage of the competition, you have to give it everything so you don't end up with regrets because there is no return leg, there is no second or third match."
The two-time African champions are aspiring to make it into the quarter-finals as they aspire to win their third Afcon crown. Their last victory was recorded in 2015.
The winner of Monday’s encounter in Suez will face Algeria in the quarter-finals.