Having already lost two of his best players, Mali coach Stephen Keshi has suffered a further blow with the withdrawal of defender Drissa Diakite. A knee injury has forced the Nice player out of the squad for their 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifier in Sudan on Saturday

Diakite is the third high-profile casualty for the side before the start of the final phase of the African Zone preliminaries. Mali will also be without Real Madrid's Mahamadou Diarra, out for the rest of the season, and influential midfielder Mohamed Sissoko, who sustained an injury playing for Juventus in Serie A earlier this month.

Diakite has been replaced by Mamahadou Mariko, who represents reigning Malian champions Djoliba.

Keshi's concerns were somewhat eased on Sunday, however, when Sevilla striker Frederic Kanoute registered a hat-trick in La Liga. The 31-year-old's three goals against Real Valladolid took his season's tally in the league to 16.

Mali squad
Soumbeyla Diakite (Stade Malien), Mahamadou Sidibe (Ethnikos/GRE), Oumar Sissoko (Metz/FRA)

Defenders: Bassirou Bamba (Club Olympique Bamako), Adama Coulibaly (Auxerre/FRA), Souleymane Diamoutene (Roma/ITA), Cedric Kante (Nice/FRA), Mahamadou Mariko (Djoliba), Bakary Soumare (Chicago Fire/USA), Adama Tamboura (Helsingborg/SWE)

Midfielders: Kalifa Cisse (Reading/ENG), Soumaila Coulibaly (Borussia Moenchengladbach/GER), Souleymane Dembele (Djoliba), Seydou Keita (Barcelona/ESP), Sidy Yaya Keita (Lens/FRA), Abdou Traore (Bordeaux/FRA), Bakaye Traore (Amiens/FRA), El Hadj Mahamane Traore (Nice/FRA)

Forwards: Cheick Fanta Mady Diarra (Centre Salif Keita), Frederic Kanoute (Sevilla/ESP), Mustapha Yattabare (Clermond Ferrand/FRA), Modibo Maiga (Le Mans/FRA), Founeke Sy (Jeanne d'Arc)