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Koulibaly challenges younger Senegal teammates to step up

Kalidou says he believes that his team can advance to next round despite starting their Group A campaign with a 2-0 loss to Netherlands
Kalidou Koulibaly.
Kalidou Koulibaly.
File photo

Reuters   |   Doha   |   Published 25.11.22, 04:54 AM

Senegal captain Kalidou Koulibaly has challenged his younger teammates to produce an improved performance in their next match against World Cup hosts Qatar as the African champions seek to revive their chances.

Koulibaly said he still believed Senegal could advance to the next round despite starting their Group A campaign with a 2-0 loss to The Netherlands on Monday.

“We are still determined because we know that there is something that we can still achieve during this World Cup and we still believe in our chances,” he told reporters.

“Our young players will have to show themselves during the next two games. They have to be on their best form to be able to produce in a big match that we have next against Qatar.”

The two continental champions meet at the Al Thumama Stadium on Friday, having both lost their opening Group A games. Qatar were beaten 2-0 by Ecuador in the tournament opener and Koulibaly said it was the “little details” that cost Senegal against the Dutch, against whom they conceded two late goals.

“We should have drawn against the Netherlands team. We knew it was going to be decided by the little details... Now we have two finals to play. We are going to give everything against Qatar to be able to play a decider against Ecuador,” the 31-year-old Chelsea defender added.

“I think that in defence, we were solid. We showed some good things and the 2-0 scoreline did not reflect the game. But at top-level football it’s like that.”

Blind trust 

Senegal coach Aliou Cisse has total trust in goalkeeper Edouard Mendy despite his rocky start to the World Cup campaign.

Mendy was arguably at fault for both goals in his side’s opening loss to The Netherlands.

“Edouard is doing very well, he has got a steely resolve,” Cisse told reporters on Thursday. “Edouard’s qualities speak for themselves, I don’t think that anyone is doubting him, sometimes he has highs, sometimes he has lows, he has my full trust, my blind trust, and that of his teammates. Tomorrow (Friday) he will be on the pitch.”

Koulibaly, who is also Mendy’s teammate at Chelsea, said people were over-reacting about the keeper’s form. “It is normal to go through difficult phases — I think we are making a mountain out of a molehill here,” he said.



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