How was your tournament preparation before the World Cup?
Thankfully the preparation went well, but I have to say that we were in an unusual situation and the players stayed in their rooms most of the time except for the practical sessions. It was a really tough period for the players and the technical staff.
Did you have all the players you wanted available to you?
No, because lots of players were injured. The forward Lassana Diassy, who currently lives in France and plays for Marseille Beach Team, was unable to travel.
How has the four-second rule impacted the way your team plays?
It has allowed us to speed up our game in terms of our goalkeeper, as we prefer a direct style. The rule has advantages and disadvantages based on your system, but it’s allowed us to adopt a game plan based on faster football.
BEACH SOCCER WORLD CUP RUSSIA 2021
What were the difficulties encountered during the group stage and what were the solutions?
In the group stage, we had players who needed time to settle into the competition. The number of fouls that we committed per match and, above all, the cards that we picked up ended up costing us. The solution for some of the players was psychological coaching so that they could settle into the competition. As for the fouls, we had to work on haste and youthful enthusiasm.
You had a perfect group stage by finishing top. Did you change the way you played in the knockout matches, from the quarter-finals onwards?
No, we didn’t change it because we have a direct style of play with a physical element. Then again, we did have to adapt to Japan and Switzerland’s style of play to try to nullify them, but it didn’t work well unfortunately.
Are you satisfied with 4th place? What is your overall feeling about your team’s performance in the tournament?
Thanks to God we achieved our aim and reached the semi-finals. We had to overcome some tough opponents to get there though. It wasn’t easy to get the better of Portugal and Brazil. This gives me another chance to congratulate my players, staff and the Senegalese Football Association.
With the new (four-second rule), there are more goals and action, so the fans were pleased. It was the best World Cup that I’ve been part of.
What could you have done better in the semi-final to beat Japan?
We had our chances, but Japan were the better team on the day. I have to point out that three of our key players were suspended: Al Sény Ndiaye, Mamour Diagne and Mamadou Sylla.
Do you believe the semi-final loss to Japan affected your team in their 3rd-place play-off? How did you motivate your players for the Switzerland match?
There are many regrets in that regard. We spoke to the players and tried to motivate them, but unfortunately luck wasn’t on our side and we didn’t manage to finish in the top three.
You narrowly missed out on the podium by finishing in 4th place at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Russia 2021™. As a team, you beat Portugal in the group stage, Brazil in the quarter-finals and one of your players, Raoul Mendy, won the Bronze Ball. How does that make you feel?
Beating some of the big names was a source of extra motivation, but I must also point out that our preparation was very good and the Senegalese Football Association made many resources available to us. Raoul’s success is down to how hard he has worked along with the staff and his team-mates. He deserves even more.
Your offensive system is based around a 2-2 formation where the goalkeeper plays it directly to one of your two attackers. How do your players sustain such a highly physical game in such a system? Do you think this was the issue in the semi-final against Japan?
Yes, the system is our strength, although there are also disadvantages, as there are with every other system. I don’t think it was down to a tactical problem against Japan though. It was more to do with how we defended against their volleys, given that we conceded lots of goals that way.
During this World Cup, attacks dominated defences with more than 302 goals scored, 16 more than in 2019. Is this shift mainly due to the application of the new four-second rule?
I think so because there came a point where games went stale. The team that opened the scoring would try to waste time, but I think that with the new system, there are more goals and action, so the fans were pleased. It was the best World Cup that I’ve been part of.