Ngalla Sylla, the Senegal coach.
Africa sports news : Senegal finished fourth at the World Cup in Russia. Your best ranking and that of an African country, in this competition. Source analysis do you make of your course?
Ngalla Sylla: First, give thanks to God. We had a good tournament: grabbing the nations with a fourth finish. And the objective when leaving Senegal was to enter the square of As since it has been several editions where we were eliminated in the quarterfinals. I find our career very honorable. We set a goal and it was achieved. We cannot in a competition, change the objectives. For me, everything that came after qualifying for the semi-finals was a bonus.
The most important thing for me is that the players, the staff, the Senegalese Football Federation and even the Senegalese people agreed on the goal of reaching the last four and we worked for that goal. Thank God, we achieved a heroic journey: we started with Uruguay (6-1 victory), which is a regular, played a key match against Portugal (5-3 victory) and lost to Oman (3 defeat). -2).
In the quarterfinals, we won against great Brazil (5-4), several times world champions (14 times titled), a very tactical team with technical players and unfortunately we fell arms in hand in front of Japan (5-2 loss). Then this defeat (9-7) against Switzerland. Had it not been for this refereeing, the yellow cards, we can say that we had a heroic tournament.
“The match against Portugal was the trigger. The drama experienced the day before with the death of Raoul’s mother (Mendy) gave us more motivation. “
Can we say the victory against Portugal, tenant of the title, was the trigger?
We can say that the match against Portugal was the trigger. When you beat the reigning world champion you tell yourself that anything becomes possible. And I think that the drama lived the day before this match with the death of the mother of Raoul (Mendy) we had given more motivation if only to honor his memory. This clause was an additional source of motivation.
In addition to Portugal, we had eliminated in the previous edition of the World Cup. So we had to beat them, especially since we kept saying that it was our pet peeve. It was therefore necessary to kill the black cat. And since that match, we have found a better atmosphere within the group with ever higher goals.
Let’s come back to this shock in the semi-finals against Brazil. Your team is advanced 3-1 in the second third …
Brazil is a team that we had studied during the group stage, knowing that there was a chance that we would end up in the quarter-finals. We told ourselves that we shouldn’t avoid them. At the start of the competition on noticed that Brazil was hesitant and was not in good shape. As and when the Brazil team gained momentum so it was opportune to the supervisor. Brazil dates times its matches, so it was necessary to approach this meeting tactically. And as they are very technical players, we had to push them on the physical aspect.
At the end of the match they told us that their goal was to fold the match very early and manage. We understood this early on. Even if you watch this game closely, we asked the players to lift their heads and push in the third time. I think we had to fold the match before extra time but these are the ups and downs of a match. The main thing was to win the match, we saw a Brazilian team that dropped in intensity at the end of the match. That day on this team tactically, technically and physically.
“In the semi-finals, we played without Alséyni, who represents 50% of the team, Mamadou Sylla, one of our best defenders, and our maestro Pape Mamour Diagne.”
In the semi-finals against Japan, the team foiled scoring only two goals. Is it only due to the absences of three executives including Alséyni?
In beach soccer we are not entitled to a large group. We had 14 players including three goalkeepers. Our striker Ibrahima Baldé had a fracture and he had to play with it because we could not replace him. We lost Mamadou Dieng who was replaced by Limamou Laye Diagne. All these ups and downs of the competition, we had to deal with them during the competition.
In the semi-final, we evolve without our backbone with Alséyni Ndiaye (porter and captain) who represents 50% of the team, an experienced and the icon of the group. Then Mamadou Sylla who is one of our best defenders and our maestro Pape Mamour Diagne who drives our game and does a huge job. It’s hard to lose these three elements to go play a World Cup semi-final which requires a good mental approach. It is true that we did not leave beaten in this match but it was already going to be complicated.
We had left a lot of feathers against Portugal, Uruguay, Brazil in addition to the boxes. The match was played on these details. But my players were not unworthy and had a big game against Japan. If you review the game, you will see that we went seven minutes without conceding a goal. Without the technical fault of Ndour who met his head on an opposing acrobatic return, I think we might even have been able to win this match.
It’s the law you play sports. Especially since Japan remained on two eliminations in a row in the semi-finals, it had to go to the final and it fell on us. We congratulate them and we continue to work on our side.
The quarter-finals have long resisted the Lions. This milestone has now been crossed. What does this bode for the Mondial editions?
We really had to work on that. Personally, when I was a player for this team, we always made ourselves disappear in the quarter-finals or in the group stage, but we were never consistent. It is since 2017 that we have gained consistency with three quarter-finals in a row, in 2017, 2019 and 2021. And this year, I had this project for this team.
Even if there was room to go further, we cannot say that it was a failure because we were a semi-finalist. The most important thing was to finally reach the quarter-final stage. It was a major problem for this team. We had to consult with the players, the leaders of the federation to try to get through this stage of the competition. What we achieved this year.
“We are heading towards large-scale competitions. It is up to us to continue the work, not to sleep on our laurels. “
You have opted for the rejuvenation of your group with new faces like Seydina Diagne, Pape Boye … For what purpose did you make this choice?
It is true that Senegal is six times African champion. And even though the base of this group is still there, it was important to bring young people and integrate them into the workforce. You don’t always have to keep the same people because it’s a selection. There are players who come in, others who leave. The door is never closed. Seats are not reserved. Whether young or old, the most important thing is to wet the jersey, to work hard to win your place.
The young people we brought back to this tournament gave us complete satisfaction. Pope Mar Boye who is doing an excellent tournament, Mandione Diagne too, Seydina Issa Diagne, a young goalkeeper who does excellent things. And a lot of kids we had to leave in Senegal. I think that when you resume activities, you have to recall them, integrate them and make them play the major roles. This is how you have to build a team in the future.
For a better tomorrow and to play the major roles, we must prepare the next generation. We are in this dynamic, the alsi federation.
What are the objectives for the next deadlines, the CAN and the 2023 World Cup?
We cannot yet plan for future editions and already set objectives. This time is to be reserved to recover. Then we can think about the future but for the moment we are in the recovery phase. We cannot advance on the deadlines because we do not know whether we will be there or not. Let players and staff rejuvenate with their families.
The federation may be in a better position to set targets for deadlines. But an athlete always has this desire to stay on top. I often give my players the example of Yékini (Senegalese wrestling legend) who reigned in wrestling for 15 years. Why not us too, to stay at the top in Africa even if it is not easy?
We know that we are heading towards large-scale competitions with teams like Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Egypt, which keep coming back. Morocco, Mozambique, Uganda… All these teams want some. But it’s up to us to continue the work, not to sleep on our laurels and then keep the bar very high.
As far as the World Cup is concerned, you have to master the achievements and work during the crossing of other levels. It’s time to recuperate and then it’s up to the federation to define its own goals.
Moustapha M. SADIO