Mali football team inspired by people back home

GERALD IMRAY AP Sports Writer Published:

PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa (AP) -- Mali coach Patrice Carteron says he brought his players together for five days in the troubled country's capital Bamako before the African Cup of Nations to motivate them and let them "feel the atmosphere" back home.

The Frenchman says thousands of Malians came to watch their national team train every day of the camp and "it was fantastic" for both the players and the people.

Many of Carteron's players are based in Europe and haven't lived through the yearlong problems in their country, but the coach says they were boosted by the short stay.

And Carteron says "all the people were happy to see the football players, to see positive things."

Carteron's Mali plays Ghana at the African Cup on Thursday, likely its toughest test in Group B.