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‘The pressure on Senegal is positive’, says coach Aliou Cisse ahead of AFCON title defence

Senegal head coach Aliou Cisse says the pressure to defend their Africa Cup of Nations title will help them in Ivory Coast.

The defending champions will start their AFCON campaign against Gambia in Group C on Monday. Senegal won the AFCON for the first time two years ago after beating Egypt on penalties.

“The pressure that exists is a positive pressure which motivates us to win, but I have a lot of experience because I will have my fourth experience with Senegal as coach during the Africa Cup of Nations,” Cisse told reporters.

“There are many candidates for the continental title and Senegal is not the only favourite to win the title.

We now have a new challenge. Yesterday has passed, which was the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, and today there is the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.”

Gambia’s flight to the Ivory Coast for the 2023 AFCON was aborted last week, and head coach Tom Saintfiet praised the pilot for his handling of the situation.

Saintfiet told BBC Sport Africa: “The local crew said there was a problem with the air conditioning before we took off but that it would be all fine when we took off.

“After a few minutes it was very hot in the plane. We all fell asleep because there was a lack of oxygen – some of the players couldn’t be woken up. The pilot noticed and we had to return.

“People got headaches and, if the flight had gone on for another 30 minutes, the whole team would have died.

The strange thing is that the oxygen masks didn’t come out – it’s good that the pilot realised that this was a deadly situation and so turned back. But we are still in shock.”

Sam Barton
Sam Barton
Sam Barton fell in love with football during the 98 World Cup and has been fascinated by it ever since. The tactical side of the game is what truly inspires him to think, read and write about football, making him the ideal football writer.
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