Senegal is ready to bring “joy” to the African country and emulate the 2002 side, which reached the quarter-finals on their World Cup debut, coach Aliou Cisse said. Senegal’s players train in preparation for their clash against Poland.
Senegal’s players train in preparation for their clash against Poland.Cisse, who was captain of the team which beat reigning champions France in the opening game of the tournament 16 years ago, said his side have worked hard and were well prepared for their Group H start against Poland in Moscow today.
“We are ready and raring to start and want to get a very good start against Poland, who have good individual qualities but some defensive weaknesses,” he told reporters.“We have lots of assets and no complexes whatsoever.
“The 2002 team has given a lot of joy to the country and I think the present team will do the same.”Advertisement Cisse confirmed that injured left-back Saliou Ciss has been replaced in the squad by Caen’s Adama Mbengue. It is Senegal’s first World Cup return since 2002 and Cisse said his side were under no pressure.Any player could come into the team, but there was a special mention for the “unique” qualities of striker Sadio Mane, who scored 20 goals for Liverpool last season.
“He has shown he is top notch with his club,” Cisse said.“He is unique because he is unpredictable, you can’t mark him.“He can make the difference at any moment with a dribble or a pass.”
Cisse, 42, believes an African team will one day win the World Cup but it may take more time because of the “realities” which other continents don’t experience.“Some 20, 25 years ago African countries came just to be part of the World Cup and I think things have developed now,” he said.“Senegal, Cameroon, Nigeria have shown we can do much more. We just have to go to the next phase.”