1 of 7
Themba Hadebe, Associated Press
Ghana's soccer player Asamoah Gyan sits on a bench as a team official treats his ankle during their training session in Ngouoni, 45 kilometers outside Franceville, Gabon, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012. Ghana will play their African Cup of Nations Group D soccer match against Mali on Saturday Jan. 28, 2012.

FRANCEVILLE, Gabon — Ghana and Mali square off in Group D on Saturday as the African Cup of Nations starts to take shape, even if it's not the shape many expected.

With the surprise success of co-host Equatorial Guinea — the lowest ranked team at the event — and the first-round failure of Senegal, both Ghana and Mali have sights set on passing safely through to the quarterfinals after opening with nervous victories.

But a win for one at Stade de Franceville will leave the other with a high-pressure final group game to advance.

Ghana assistant coach Kwesi Appiah says "the boys know what is at stake," while Mali playmaker Seydou Keita is under pressure to guide a youthful team to the knockout stage in maybe his last international tournament.