Mali coach Patrice Carteron has hailed his team's bronze medal feat at the 2013 Orange Africa Cup of Nations as amazing.
Les Aigles claimed the right as third best team at the tournament with a 3-1 win over Ghana on Saturday in Port Elizabeth. Mahamadou Samassa, Seydou Keita and Sigamary Diarra found the back of the net before Ghana earned a consolation from Kwadwo Asamoah in the closing stages.
It was the second successive bronze for Mali after beating Ghana 2-0 at the same stage last year in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. However, Carteron describes the feat this time as special.
"The third place is amazing. It's great to climb onto the podium for a second successive year. Big teams like Cameroon did not even qualify, Cote d'Ivoire crashed out at the quarter-final stage whilst holders Zambia, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco failed to go past the third place.
"We managed to reach the semi-final. The players were fantastic. I doff my hat off to my team."
The Frenchman lauded the mental toughness of his players for the game, coming on the heels of the 1-4 defeat to Nigeria at the semis.
"Despite the disappointment at the semi-final, the players were determined to go home with a medal. I'm very proud of the achievement of my players. The people back home will be happy with this feat.
"This is a great generation of players for the Mali team. They have finished third twice; this has never happened in Mali football. The Players will be welcomed at home and it is a great achievement."
Carteron also singled out captain Seydou Keita for praise based on his leadership style and contribution towards the team's journey at the tournament. The 33-year old forward scored thrice including in the third-place match against Ghana.