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Fulham midfielder happy to get Mali call

Fulham's Mahamadou Diarra is delighted to be back in the Mali squad. Photo credit: Joe Giddens/EMPICS Fulham's Mahamadou Diarra is delighted to be back in the Mali squad. Photo credit: Joe Giddens/EMPICS

Friday, September 7, 2012
3:09 PM

A return to the international stage is a “dream come true” for Fulham’s Mahamadou Diarra who is back in the Mali set-up after more than a year away.

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The midfielder last played represented the African country in June 2011 but as a free agent after leaving Monaco he was not picked again.

Injuries blighted Diarra last season but now back to full fitness and playing regularly for Fulham, the 31-year-old is delighted be given the captain’s armbannd for Mali’s African Nations Cup qualifier against Botswana in Bamako on Saturday.

“I am definitely happy to be back playing on a big stage,” he told Sky Sports. “To be in the national team is a dream come true.

“Bostwana are a good team and we will try to get an advantage in the first game.”

The skipper’s armband is an added bonus for the 64-cap star, who said: “To be honest I am just happy to be back playing.

“(It’s not about) coming and taking the captain’s armband. I am here to play for my people; people who have loved me and supported me throughout my career.

“The armband is not the most important thing. I have to defend and play for my country and try to qualify with them.”

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Fulham

Nickname: The Whites

Ground: Craven Cottage (capacity 25,700)

Founded: 1879

Honours: Second Division: 1949, 2001.

Third Division: 1932, 1999.

Southern League: 1906, 1907.

Leading goalscorer: Gordon Davies, 178.

Leading appearances: Johnny Haynes, 658.