Lagos - Mali's goalkeeper Mahamadou Samassa has said that he was hopeful a victory over the Super Eagles at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations could bring joy to his countrymen.
Mali had been in the heat of a struggle to liberate it from the strangle-hold of Islamic militants by a multilateral force led by France.
Samassa made the remark on CAF website on Tuesday, saying the players were determined to ensure that football helped to restore peace to Mali.
Mali are in the semi-finals of the Nations Cup after eliminating hosts, South Africa over the weekend and will play Nigeria's Super Eagles on Wednesday.
Mali have lost only once in the competition against Ghana during the Group stages in Port Elizabeth and have since been impressive and clinical.
However, the volatile political situation in Mali appears to have unsettled the team, with every of their news conferences throughout the tournament punctuated by questions about the political unrest.
Samassa said the players had done their best not to dwell nor articulate their views on the violence back home.
"We are footballers not politicians, we don’t want to talk about what's happening back home. It's not nice seeing what is happening, but I don’t want to talk about it.
"For us, we are hoping that we can make the people back home very happy. We know that football can unite people and heal many things.
"We believe that we can do the country proud and give our people the reason to rejoice and be happy," he told the CAF website.
Wednesday's encounter will be Mali’s second successive semi-final appearance after achieving such feat in the Equatorial Guinea/ Gabon AFCON.
Samassa added: "The team has been playing well as a unit and this has worked for us. I don’t think we will change much for the semi-final here in Durban.
"Maybe we can correct one or two things in our game but I’m happy with what we have been doing. We are in the semi-finals, the next step is the final and once you are there, anything can happen.
"We cannot celebrate the victory against South Africa forever, we must now focus on our next game on Wednesday," Samassa said.