Senegal coach Pape Thiaw wants to see his team go further at the 2022 TotalEnergies African Nations Championship (CHAN) in Algeria as the quarter-final looms.
The Teranga Lions, who finished top of Group B, will face Mauritania in the quarter-final on Friday at the 19 May 1956 Stadium in Annaba.
Ahead of Friday’s game, Thiaw admitted it will be a tough challenge against the Al Mourabitounes, but wants his team to have a good run in the competition reserved for home-based players.
“We know that Mauritania is a very good team and well organised. Their football is progressing but we will do our best to make the people of our country proud,” Thiaw said during his pre-match press conference on Thursday.
“We hope this adventure continues tomorrow. We were outsiders before coming to Algeria. We talked about all of our group opponents. They had a winning pedigree, but we knew our strength and our FA invested a lot in our preparations. We played COSAFA, Islamic games, went to Morocco and more. We finished first in a Group of Death, so we don’t want it to end here.”
Senegalese football has been on the rise in recent times, as the country is currently the TotalEnergies African Nations cup winner and Beach Soccer winner. Thiaw insists that it’s all the fruit of hard work.
“All the trophies we won have been the results of hard work. All is going well because of work. Sadio Mane is loved by everyone because of his hard work and humility. Their generation helped us to improve our mental. Before penalty, shoot-outs trouble us, but they helped us out of that situation with the AFCON win. Our players also qualified through penalties so you see how they helped.”
Pape Thiaw and his Senegalese National team-mates suffered a 2-0 defeat to Mauritania in July 2013, but the tactician says he’s not out for revenge.
“We are not here for revenge, we want to write our history to cause the world to speak about local football in Senegal and cause people to respect it more.”
Mauritania’s CHAN team has been in a good run of games, as they have gone nine international games unbeaten. Senegal’s midfielder Lamine Camara says he’s unfazed by Mauritania’s form.
“It’s true Mauritania currently has a good run. There are no worries about that. We are not focused on that. We are paying maximum attention to ourselves,” said Lamine.
“We lost against Uganda. That remains a big lesson for us. We want to draw lessons from that and go as far as possible. We are galvanizing to give our best, to avoid disappointing our people,” Lamine added.
“Senegal is doing well in all categories these days. Our national teams are doing well, so we don’t want to be the exception.”
The midfielder was a doubt for Friday’s game, but has returned to training.
” It’s about hard work to convince the trainers to get to that level. It’s our dream but declaring is not enough. We have to work hard for that”, he told CAFonline.com.
“I had a specific session yesterday (Wednesday) which was all about preparing me for the game and I am sure I will be ready for the game.”
Lamine Camara has been instrumental in Senegal’s run to the quarter-final which could attract Aliou Cisse a few weeks before the start of the TotalEnergies African Cup of Nations qualifiers.
However, Camara suggests he still has a lot of work to do to earn a place in the senior team.
“It’s about hard work to convince the trainers to get to that level. It’s our dream but declaring is not enough. We have to work hard for that.
Friday’s game at the 19 May 1956 stadium, will be the first meeting at the TotalEnergies CHAN between Senegal and Mauritania.
It is the first time the Al Mourabitounes reach this stage of the competition, after finishing bottom of their groups in their two previous participations in 2014 and 2018.
Senegal finished fourth in the maiden edition in 2009, but is making a comeback after missing the past four editions. Kick-off for Senegal versus Mauritania West African derby on Friday at the 19 May 1956 stadium in Annaba, is at 1900 GMT.