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We are going to the World Cup to compete, not as tourists – Lamouchi

With just over 80 days before the big kick-off in Brazil, the technical experts of Africa's big 5 who will lead the continent's campaign for glory are looking back at their respective team's last international matches and plotting for the success of Brazil2014. Algeria, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria have the backing of an entire continent with huge expectations. CAF president Issa Hayatou, sums up the dreams of many across the continent when he says that "there is no reason why Africa cannot have one or two of our representatives reach the semi-finals or indeed even the final of the World Cup".

The Elephants coach Sabri Lamouchi, is taking on the continent's huge expectations and in reviewing his charges last fixture, a 2-2 draw against Belgium, and looking ahead to the finals, the Ivorian trainer is hopeful of rounding-up a squad free of injury and making a real impression in South America. He spoke to cafonline.com.

We are going to the World Cup to compete, not as tourists – Lamouchi
Cafonline.com: Looking back, how do you analyse the draw against Belgium and its impact on your overall preparations and planning for Brazil2014?
Lamouchi:"Before the match against Belgium, I read and heard a lot about the challenge we would face. Some were saying I was taking a risk playing that game because the match against Belgium would be difficult. But it was what I wanted. We absolutely needed a quality opponent that would give us an idea of our real worth on the field. And I drew a lot of positive lessons from the match. I preferred this kind of adversity in preparation because they would give a feel of what it would take against teams that would matter in this Brazilian World Cup. Belgium was important for us going forward because many observers believe that Belgium can rise to the top in Brazil and I also believe so."

Cafonline.com: Did the outcome of the match satisfy you and give you the insight you needed in terms of assessing yourselves against top rated teams?
Lamouchi: "We got a very good result. Looking at the whole encounter, we had good collective control. But that is not all, for even when you dominate a match, you could still lose it. We trailed on two occasions. But we knew that we were lacking physically because the Belgians are huge. We saw the dangers of losing the ball where we shouldn’t and the dangers that come with it. But I am proud of my players because they responded well to every situation. My team has some special qualities. The players did not give up. We fought well, equalised and continued to control the game. The players put out their best, and would not accept defeat. It was very rewarding and positive for the future. "

Cafonline.com: What is your view of the general state and balance of the team?
Lamouchi: This Ivorian team has been progressing well over the last two years. I am sensitive as to what is being said about the team and its composition but I stay focused on my job. And my job is to make sure that the Elephants become the best, the most competitive possible, and that they should make the Ivorian people proud. I cannot be blamed for having modified things or looked for solutions to make the team better.

After the match against Senegal in Morocco, I read some unpleasant stuff about my players, and, to me, despite the qualification for the World Cup; I thought that some of the criticism was a bit hard. But we cannot say certain things that have been said about my players after the match against Belgium or the World Cup qualifiers. To some people, our performance against Belgium was not very reassuring and was not positive. But I do not agree. I’m quite reassured by some comments, which make me think that we saw the same match, where I drew positive lessons on my players and their performance.”

Cafonline.com:What were some of your key observations and positives which you may take into consideration as you prepare for the finals and go to Brazil?
Lamouchi: I saw committed players, I saw unhappy players, and I saw players who are proud to put on the Ivorian jersey. At the end of the game, when I told them that the match was a test, I saw what it meant as a message. I'm certain that with a little more rigour, with a little more discipline, the Elephants are able to do something at the next World Cup. But this entails attending to some finer team details, which we will be polishing up day after day.
What I would wish, is simply that there should be a serious union around the national team. We are on our way to play our third World Cup. And I pray that we leave from Brazil shoulders high, and make the Ivorian people proud as much as possible. But the Elephants need to feel the earnest gathering of a united Ivorian people around them. What I do, I do in the interest of the Ivorian national team. And I believe that the 30 players who are on the list for the 13th of May training camp, and the final 23 will be on the list on June 2 will feel the supplementary force and backing of the entire country if the people unite around them. We need the entire 22million Ivorians and Africa to rally around the team to make World Cup success a possibility.

Cafonline.com: Just like in the last qualifying match against Senegal, the Elephants presented two faces against Belgium. A first half that was less offensive and another, more enterprising, during the second half...
Lamouchi: That is a good remark. But it is not because we showed two faces that the first half was completely negative. I do not share the point that the first half was uninteresting. We had control of the ball but despite that, we did not succeed in creating many scoring opportunities. In the second half, we of course had major changes and we saw a good response from the Elephants. Overall, what pleased me is the state of mind of the players and the whole team. When playing a strong team like that of Belgium, what interests and matters most to me is the focus, the attitude of my players, their behaviour and their state of mind throughout the match and at the end, I was satisfied and reassured about our prospects.

Cafonline.com: You had a lot of injuries making headlines and this forced you to try the young goalkeeper - Mandé Sayouba…
Lamouchi: “You do well to note the absences as a result of injuries. Copa, Bamba, Lacina Traoré, Boli Mathis and others were left out because of injuries. I have never taken refuge behind injuries and would never do that. The eleven Elephants that I line up for any given match are in my view the best eleven of the moment. This cannot be over emphasized but I have never had the opportunity yet to have 100% of my players and to line up the same team twice. We all need to pray so that at the end of European championships, Ivorian international players should be fit and in good health. The match against Belgium was the last for us to get together before engaging in preparations for the World Cup and was therefore important to see the young goalkeeper Mandé Sayouba. I find that there are things that he did well, and others that require him to improve. But I think we were a little hard on him because that boy is the future of Ivorian football. Sayouba has a good height, he is young and proud of putting on the national jersey, and he is happy to be with us.

Cafonline.com: You have been heard saying to the players that you are not going to the next World Cup with tourists. Could you clarify your statement?
Lamouchi: We are going to the World Cup to compete in the most important competition in the world. This is the most important for the players, the nation, and the federation. We cannot afford to think of getting there physically unfit, being overweight, and being discouraged. We need to work very hard with extreme discipline. We have to be at a 100% physically and mentally ready to progress in the competition. In the group where we are, smaller details will matter. It will entail concentration, attention to every detail, determination and we have to be focused and fight with greater determined than we have ever done at any tournament.

Culled from cafonline.com

1.Posté par AlysonUcw le 16/10/2017 16:31 (depuis mobile)

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