« In Africa, there are very good coaches »

Coach Aliou Cissé speaks this month in the columns of the issue of Onze Mondial. The opportunity for the coach of Senegal to lend himself to the game of the tactical moment.

His calling as a coach

 » Yes, it was a vocation, something I thought about during my playing career. Automatically, even before stopping – because I could continue, physically, I still had the strength to play two years – I decided to stop my career to pass my coaching diplomas. There are a lot of things that I absorbed without understanding the reasons when I was playing, so I needed to know what those reasons were. When you’re a footballer, you don’t have the same approach as when you’re a coach.

When you are a coach, you have to know the reasons of the “how” and the “why”. We win, there are reasons for that, we lose, there are reasons too. The difference is that when you’re a footballer, you’re only focused on yourself, you don’t think about anything other than your individual performance. Whereas for me, training is one thing, but after training is where all my work begins. You have to worry about 23 players, technical staff, medical staff, journalists, press conferences, all of this means that you cannot have the same mentality and the same approach as a player. It really is another level. »

Being a role model

 » I don’t know if today I am an example. Yes, we won the CAN, but in 2019, when we lost, maybe nobody wanted to be inspired by what we were doing so we remained humble. Winning doesn’t mean you’re the best coach in the world. Winning is good, but we keep improving because we are also young coaches. It is not because we have won that we take ourselves for what we are not. We have this humility and that’s what will make us move forward at some point. Now of course we are here for this continent.

When this continent needs us, we are there to give our know-how, what we think of African football and the African style as it can exist for the Spanish, Portuguese, German, French style. I think that today, through me, through Florent Ibenge, through Djamel Belmadi, something is happening at the level of coaches on the African continent. Our dream is for African expertise to be valued as well, for people to understand that in Africa there are very good coaches and that we are able to have reciprocity, mutual respect, and to know that a Western coach can come and train in Africa because he has the skills, but also because an African coach who has won, who has done very good things in Africa is able to exist in the French, Spanish and English championships and German.

How many African coaches are there in Europe? (Pause) There you go. This is the debate. This is where we need to go. In France, how many coaches from minorities are there? In England, how many are there? In Portugal ? In Germany ? What is the problem ? It’s up to the decision-makers to tell us. »

His inspirations

 » The coaches I had when I was young. I had very, very good trainers, very, very good coaches. Very quickly, I had the chance to train with Jean Fernandez in Lille who brought me with the first team when I was 16, 17 years old. I learned the rigor of professional football, I learned to be physically ready, to be a « slave » to this job. The rigor, the understanding of the game, with Jean Fernandez, I learned a lot.

Hervé Gauthier was also someone very inspiring in my training, Bruno Metsu, Philippe Bergeroo, Luis Fernandez… In England I met coaches like Harry Redknapp, Steve Bruce and with each coach, I was able to learn, because each had a different playing style, playing identity and vision of football. In France, the coaches have a different vision, you have to take what is good about the English in their winning mentality, in their fighting-spirit, in the aggressiveness they display, but also this French organizational quality.

With all that, we manage to have a rather interesting background so this is an opportunity for me to thank all these coaches with whom I learned because it is thanks to them that I am where I am today. In recent years, German coaches have impressed me. »

World Eleven

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