The hosts are the surprised packets at the last four, booking their place thanks to last-gasp winner against Congo, 4-3, a result which marked the first ever win by the West African country in the history of the eight-team tournament.
With ticket for the FIFA U-20 World Cup already secured, Koto is looking forward to the ultimate and insists the only way to remain on that track is victory against the Eaglets of Mali.
Over the past few months, ‘Les Lionceaux’ has nicked four wins in six friendly meetings against the Malians, a scenario which gives the hosts a huge urge going into the game, which ranks the biggest ever in the history of Senegalese youth football.
“Mali is a strong team. We have beaten them four times and I know the team well. We have to devise a strategy to overcome them. But playing in the semis, anything can happen.
“Both teams are at the same level and I expect a high level game on Thursday, because both teams are hardworking,” Koto added.
Having let in eight goals in their previous three matches at the group phase, Koto is working around the clock to have a solid backline for the encounter against the Malians, the only team with a 100-percent record at the championship thus far.
“It is true we have conceded a lot of goals and it is a reality. I have discussed with my technical staff and how to solve our defensive problems. There will surely be some changes against Mali.
“My players are well-prepared for the challenge and I am hoping luck will be on our side to aid our efforts,” Koto concluded.
Captain Roger Gomis makes a return to the team after sitting out of the last game against Congo due to suspension, and relishes a tough outing against the Eaglets of Mali.
“I’m very happy to be back in the team and I like the fact that I’m available for selection for the semis. We are fully focused for the game.
“Our approach and strategy is to tackle each match as it comes. All the players are thinking same and are looking forward to victory against Mali. We expect a tough game but we have our sights on the final,” said Gomis, who plays for French lower division side, Louhans-Cuisseaux.