AL RAYYAN: Senegal coach Aliou Cisse said his team are expected to reach the World Cup knockout stages due to their status as African champions but his players are adapting to the pressure well.
Senegal need to beat Ecuador in their final Group ‘A’ game on Tuesday to qualify for the last 16. They could still remain in contention with a draw, provided hosts Qatar beat three-times finalists Netherlands.
“I come from a country where we don’t like losing,” Cisse told reporters on Monday. “We’re always hungry for that win. Not going to the round of 16 would be difficult to digest.”
Cisse’s side lost 2-0 to the Dutch but beat Qatar 3-1 to keep alive their hopes of advancing.
“We understand that winning will allow us to continue on the adventure and that’s exactly what we intend on doing,” Cisse said.
Ecuador need a win or draw to qualify, after beating Qatar 2-0 and outplaying the Dutch in a 1-1 draw.
The South Americans are sweating on the fitness of captain Enner Valencia after he was carried off late in the Netherlands draw with a recurrence of a knee strain.
The 33-year-old forward has scored all three of Ecuador’s goals in Qatar. Ecuador coach Gustavo Alfaro was not definitive about his striker’s fitness, but said Valencia would of course be starting if he can.
“He is an extraordinary player and I would always pick him. If not from the beginning, I hope he can be present at some point. But he will want to be there,” he said.
“Everything that we’ve done in the past will be useless tomorrow, it’s a totally different game,” Alfaro remarked about the Senegal clash. “We just want to win in order to qualify.”
Published in Dawn, November 29th, 2022