Senegal coach Aliou Cisse on Monday urged his players “not to overthink” their World Cup showdown with Ecuador, knowing they likely must win their final group game to reach the last 16.
Senegal bounced back from an opening loss to the Netherlands by beating hosts Qatar, but the African champions are a point behind the Dutch and Ecuador going into the last round of Group A matches.
“We understand that winning will allow us to continue the adventure and that’s what we want to do,” Cisse said, praising Tuesday’s opponents Ecuador as “a beautiful team”.
Senegal were eliminated in the group stage in 2018 on fair play rules after finishing level on points with Japan.
Cisse said his side was keeping a “cool head” and promised “not to overthink the game tomorrow” despite the weight on their shoulders.
“We are OK, we are dealing with pressure and stress. For me it is good stress.
“We are working day in, day out. I have been working with my players and we have been working for years to get to the World Cup.”
The former Paris Saint-Germain and Birmingham City player, who took over as Senegal coach in 2015, said his team needed to keep perspective despite the importance of the occasion.
“Football isn’t war, no one is going to die in battle – I hope not anyway – but it is a decisive game.”
Cisse said he has no injury concerns ahead of the game and revealed that star forward Sadio Mane, ruled out of the tournament with a leg injury, has been willing his teammates on from afar.
“Sadio is still with us, even if we don’t speak (daily). I know he sends messages to the boys at the end of each game — he is with us.”