Ghana youngster Mubarak Wakaso says the Black Stars will not be overawed by the presence of Seydou Keita in Mali’s midfield when the two sides clash on Thursday.
The four-time champions face the Eagles in a crucial Group B at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations match in the South African city of Port Elizabeth.
The battle between the two West African countries will be centred in the midfield with most of the star players in the two teams known as accomplished midfielders.
Ghana are desperate for a victory to boost their chances after they were held to a 2-2 draw by DR Congo in their opening group match on Sunday.
But the Ghana squad is dominated by young players as compared to the Malians who have played at the highest level for many years.
Keita, who played for Spanish giants Barcelona before moving to China last year, is known to Wakaso who plays in the Spanish La Liga.
The Mali captain who scored the only goal of the game in their opening group match against Niger on Sunday is expected to dominate the midfield exchanges.
But the Espanyol midfielder Wakaso, 22, says having played with Keita in the Spanish top-flight over the past few seasons he will face not problems in dealing with the Mali captain.
“There is no doubt that Seydou Keita is a very good player,” Wakaso said.
“That does not mean that just because he played for a big team we will watch him run over all of us. After all I played against him several times in Spain and I did well.
“Repeating that at the Africa Cup of Nations should be no problem. We will deal with him effectively.”
Mali currently lead Group B with three points after defeating Niger 1-0 on Sunday night.
Ghana and DR Congo are tied at second place with one point apiece, with Niger at the bottom of the group with no points.