(Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix)
Mali and Ghana will meet in the match nobody wants to play on Saturday when they square off at Soccer City for the bronze medal at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.
The losing semi-finalists from Wednesday will feature in a repeat of the same match at the same stage in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon 12 months ago.
It means Last Four disappointment for both of these teams for a second successive tournament, and though the players would no doubt just like to go home after an arduous few weeks, they will have to lift themselves for one more challenge.
Mali emerged victors at the last finals, winning 2-0 after a brace from forward Cheick Diabaté took them to bronze.
Ghana were favourites then and will be again, and perhaps last year's loss will give them an extra edge on this fixture. They also defeated the Maliens 1-0 in the pool phase of this competition.
Certainly Ghana defender John Pantsil, an injury doubt for Saturday’s game, would like to go home with something.
"We are still in the medal zone although we didn't get the ultimate itself," he said. "But at least going home with the third place will be very good for the team and also boost the morale for next month's World Cup qualifier," he said.
Striker Asamoah Gyan echoed those sentiments, saying the players must find the mental strength to face Mali.
“We are very down, naturally, but we must lift ourselves for the sake of our nation. It is not the match we wanted to be involved in this weekend, but there are medals at stake,” he said.
Mali talisman Seydou Keita has told his teammates to pull together for the final hurdle, saying they did not show the same togetherness in their 4-1 semi-final loss against Nigeria.
“Blaming other people is a waste of time and takes us nowhere,” Keita says. “We did well against South Africa because we played as a team. We did not play well against Nigeria and there must be a collective sharing of the responsibility for that failure.”