WORLD CUP DIARY: Senegal coach Cisse delighted to finally break Africa’s duck at the World Cup
Africa have finally broken their duck at the 2018 World Cup‚ but there is still a long way to go if we are to see a side in the second round.
The TimesLIVE World Cup diary today has news from Senegal‚ Tunisia‚ Argentina and Iceland!
CISSE’S SENEGAL DELIGHT
Senegal coach Aliou Cisse was delighted to finally break Africa’s duck at the 2018 World Cup as his side claimed a 2-1 success over Poland.
It was a deserved win for the west Africans‚ though the points were secured via an own goal and a mistake in defence with a stray back-pass.
"Senegal won due to discipline‚" said Cisse.
"You saw a Senegal team very solid‚ very compact. We were able to put them under pressure.
"Every time they made a mistake we were able to find the action we needed and get back at them. We managed really well to get them out of their comfort zone in the first half.
"Senegal prevented Poland from playing‚" he said.
"You should give credit for that ... We knew that Robert Lewandowski was a key element ... and we played it very tight."
Cisse was captain of Senegal when they stunned France in the opening game of the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea.
Tunisia have lost first-choice goalkeeper Mouez Hassen for the remainder of the World Cup after he was injured early in his side’s 2-1 loss to England on Monday.
Hassen‚ who plays for French second division club Chateauroux‚ only threw his lot in with Tunisia this year having played for France at junior age-group level.
Tunisia cannot now call up a replacement‚ so will work with Farouk Ben Mustapha‚ who surprisingly replaced Hassen against England with squad captain Aymen Mathlouthi left on the bench.
The North Africans are next in action against Belgium on Saturday.
GETTING MESSI FOR LIONEL
After missing a penalty in Argentina’s opening World Cup draw with Iceland‚ the spotlight has inevitably shone brighter on Lionel Messi in what could be his last global finals.
It must have been especially galling for the Barcelona man as he saw his great rival at Real Madrid‚ Cristiano Ronaldo‚ score for Portugal in their opening two games.
There is a theory that Messi will retire from international football after the tournament in Russia and if Argentina are not successful‚ it will mean he will exit the global stage with zero trophies won in either the South American championship or World Cup.
And that will add fuel to the argument of those who say he is not on the same level as Ronaldo‚ or even another Argentine legend‚ Diego Maradona.
But there are those who also feel too much is expected of him‚ including former Argentine international Claudio Caniggia.
"You can't give all the responsibility to Messi. Because then what's the point of you being there?" Caniggia said. "Messi doesn't get the same support from his team mates as Maradona (did)."
An amazing 99.6 percent of people with TV sets in Iceland watched their side’s 1-1 draw with Argentina at the weekend‚ which suggests that around 1‚000 individuals in the entire country’s population did not tune in!
It is an amazing statistic‚ but this team with a dentist for a coach and a former film-maker as their goalkeeper has captured the imagination in what is the smallest country ever to qualify for the World Cup.
Goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson‚ who played with former Bafana Bafana winger Mandla Masango at Randers in Denmark‚ stopped his job in the film industry in 2012‚ but returned to the director’s chair to shoot a local commercial for Coca-Cola that is played during advert breaks of World Cup matches in Iceland.
"I'm not an expert in which jobs the players have‚ but I think film-maker must be up there among the strangest - it's not a usual combination‚ footballer and film-maker‚" Halldorsson said.
When Japan and Senegal clash in their World Cup Group H match at the Ekaterinburg Arena on Sunday‚ they are likely to leave behind them a spotless stadium.
That is because both sets of fans have taken to cleaning up after themselves at the end of their games‚ as bemused local onlookers who have volunteered for the job watch on.
It was a tradition started by the Japanese in Brazil four years as fans bring large rubbish bags to the game and afterwards fill them with general litter around the seats.
The Senegalese have caught on too and did the same after their win over Poland on Tuesday.