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CIV - Cote d’Ivoire and Kouyate get ready for Mozambique 2013
ABIDJAN (AfroBasket Women/FIBA World Championship for Women) - If the intentions of Cote d'Ivoire women's national team at the AfroBasket Women 2013 match with those of their star player Kani Kouyate, it will not only the year they secure their first place in the FIBA World Championship for Women, but also the first time they win a continental title.
The continental championship runs from 20 to 29 September in Mozambique's capital city of Maputo, and at stake are the top two places available for African teams for the 16-team FIBA World Championship for Women to be staged in Turkey (27 September-5 October 2014).
Kouyate has become Cote d'Ivoire's most outstanding player in recent years, and the only thing crossing her in mind in terms of basketball is the upcoming African tournament.
She spoke to FIBA.com, and revealed how the team is planning to show up in Maputo.
"We acknowledge it will be difficult for us to improve from our eight-place finish two years ago," she said.
"But our challenge is to improve from that result, and why not to make it to the tournament's Final Round.
"I honestly think that we can do better this time than before because we had a better preparation," Kouyate went on.
The "Elephants" have been drawn in Group A along Senegal, Egypt, hosts Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Algeria.
"We have not doubted they are good teams," Kouyate cautioned, "but the difference is that we really want to win games there, especially because of our determination, and this is one of my personal goals.
"I know it is a cliche, but we are not going to Mozambique to make up numbers and watch those big African teams play. We are going there to compete."
Earlier this year, Kouayate was named Cote d'Ivoire's national league's MVP. This is nothing new for a player who has received plaudits for her basketball commitments to the country.
"I love and enjoy basketball, and I always play the best way I can," she explained.
"Of course I can play professionally in Europe. I am a very strong-minded person."
And when asked about her favourite player, she has no doubt - "myself," she replied.