Senegal coach Aliou Cisse challenges players to book World Cup spot
Posted: 10 November 2017 Time: 09:30
Senegal coach Aliou Cisse has urged his players to make history and qualify for the FIFA World Cup for the first time since 2002.
Addressing the media through a translator at Peter Mokaba Stadium on Thursday night, the French speaking Cisse backed his boys to perform well against Stuart Baxter's Bafana Bafana side in tonight's encounter.
Cisse captained the Lions of Teranga to the quarterfinals during the World Cup in Korea/Japan 15 years ago and now wants the current group of players to book themselves a spot at next year’s showpiece in Russia.
The 2002 squad had so much quality in it, with the likes of El-Hadji Diouf, Henri Camara, Papa Bouba Diop and Tony Sylva, who is now the goalkeeper coach.
The current squad also has players who are capable of leading the team to the World Cup, such as Sadio Mane, Diafra Sakho, Cheikhou Kouyate, Keita Balde and Idrissa Gueye.
Currently on top of Group D, Senegal need just two points to secure a ticket to Russia.
“This is very important for Senegal because it has been 15 years since we went to the World Cup, so it’s very important for us to win for our people because they need it,” said Cisse.
“We will be playing against a South African team that has good players and we don’t expect an easy game, but we just hope that everything will be with us to win the game. Whether we are playing at home or away, we are expecting to go to the World Cup.”
Cisse admitted that, even though referee Joseph Lamptey was found guilty of manipulating the result in the 2-1 defeat to Bafana last year, Senegal did not play as well as they had hoped. He wants to see improvements this evening.
“It’s true that we did not play so well. From that game there are many things that we have changed, so we will be expecting something better,” the dreadlocked coach said.
Senegal’s big defender Kara Mbodj is suspended for the upcoming encounter but will be back when the two countries meet again in Dakar on Tuesday.
Mbodj scored when the sides played to a 1-1 group stage draw during the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea. His height will be missed, especially when set-piece opportunities are presented in the Bafana box.
But Cisse is confident he has enough quality in his squad.
“I am not worried about my defender Kara. I know he is suspended, but whoever comes in will be ready physically and mentally. I have players who are ready to make history.”