The Eagles of Mali are 25th in the world and third in Africa, while Nigeria are 52nd on FIFA’s list and ninth in Africa.
Carteron told BBC Sport: “Nigeria beat Ivory Coast, who everyone had thought would win that game.
“Now everyone thinks Nigeria will win the cup, so the pressure is on them.”
He added: “They’ve got good young players like Victor Moses and Emmanuel Emenike, and experienced players like John Obi Mikel and they’ve got a good, experienced coach in Stephen Keshi.
“But we have the faith and we are so motivated because we want to give so much to the Malian people.
“This semi-final is not the end; it is the start of something.”
Carteron revealed that Mamadou Samassa, the goalkeeper who was suspended for the quarter-final against South Africa, will return to the starting line-up for ednesday’s game.
That is despite the heroics of his replacement, Soumalia Diakite, who pulled off two saves in the penalty shoot-out to see Mali through to the last four.
Mali against Nigeria is the first semi-final, and kicks-off in the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban at 1500 GMT on Wednesday.