The 2019 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations will be concluded on Friday when the Desert Foxes of Algeria would clash with the Teranga Lions of Senegal at the Cairo International stadium in Egypt.
Napoli defender, Kalidou Koulibaly is set to miss the clash because of suspension but all hopes of a first AFCON title would rest of Liverpool’s Sadio Mane and the rest of the squad. Ahead of the final, Senegal coach Aliou Cisse spoke to the press men at the mandatory conference and here is what he said:
“I’m happy to be in the final, this is the work of five full years and our target from the first day was to be in the final. In football there’s no domestic or foreign coach, there were some good foreign coaches in Africa too. The difference is that me and Belmadi were given the chance by our federations,” Cisse said.
“17 years is a very long time since we were last in the final, most of my players were very young then. We suffered a lot since then and this generation now wants to achieve more. The game is going to be tough but we want to make our people happy.It’s football and the defeat against Algeria in the group stage is past now.”
“We respect them much but we have to say our word loud. It’s the final so it’s complicated, but simply we just want to win. Final is about small details. There’s stress and pressure, and these details make the difference. But in the end African football is the winner.”
Cisse also revealed the plan to play without Napoli defender, Koulibaly. “Kalidou Koulibaly is one of the best defenders in the world. I convinced him of representing Senegal and I’m sad he won’t be available for the final because he’s a very important player. His absence is a regret, but we will find the replacement and tomorrow we play for him,” Cisse said.
Liverpool star Mane, has also been in the headlines for several reasons. He missed penalties at the tournament and has been criticized at the tournament. “Sadio Mané is the champion of Europe is not thinking of the individual trophies, he is just focusing on making his country proud. Many great players miss penalties. We are training on it and if they were to be needed in the final, we will be ready.”
“Our philosophy is to have every game at a time. The defeat to Algeria in the group stage made us come back stronger. Our players are very good and we will be ready. There’s no big difference between both teams.We are not under pressure, but we wake up every day happy that we are here and that we are lucky to work with passion.”
“We represent our country, our supporters and our flag. That is a very big motive for us. We always play to win. Senegal always had great talents, but I think generation is the best. We played in the World Cup after a long time of absence, and we are in the AFCON final too. What changed is the mental strength of our players that helps them in games of this magnitude.”