Les Aigles have been one of the most entertaining teams to watch at the Total Africa Cup of Nations Egypt 2019. Boasting of the youngest squad at the tournament, the West Africans finished top of Group E to reach the next round, where they face Cote d'Ivoire. Head Coach Mohamed Magassouba spoke to CAFOnline.com ahead of Monday's clash with the Ivorians in Suez. Below are excerpts;
CAFOnline.com: Are you happy to be back in Suez after playing the final group stage match in Ismailia?
Mohamed Magassouba: It is true that a team that wants to win must adapt to everything and we are always ready to do it. We are also happy to be here because we've had good results when we played here in Suez
What lessons have picked from the group stages?
Before the tournament, we had a project of the games and results we wanted. At this stage, I can express my total satisfaction in terms of the human investment because the project starts with the players, the staff and the behavioral aspect has been great.
I am also pleased with the performance of my young players who until today have played according to the plans and patterns we had set out to produce. But of course, there are things to improve.
We were in a group that had Tunisia, considered one of the tournament favorites and we were able to beat the odds. The output of earning seven points with six goals scored and only two conceded in three games is a good base for us to continue in the rest of the tournament.
How do you now approach this phase of the competition which is a knockout?
Before coming to Egypt, our philosophy was to take one game at a time and that's what we continue doing. We will have another phase in front of us and mentally we are prepared to approach it. We will negotiate this final stage with a lot of commitment, determination and above all, with know-how.
The know-how is very decisive because you have to know how to negotiate your strong moments, also know how to manage your down times. In this respect, we are sufficiently equipped to face our opponents.
You face Cote d'Ivoire, a side that you have never in four AFCON meetings. Are you going to end this run?
What is certain is that we have a new philosophy on which we built our team. If this philosophy continues, I dare to believe that there will be no psychological obstacle. We have in mind that football is not built by history but by the forces of the day and those in the present. The current Ivorian team has a new backbone with new players, a new coach and it is the same for Mali. I will not talk too much but, wait to see the match.
What could then make a difference?
The details will be on the pitch. Everyone will see what will make the difference. Otherwise, the 22 players (note: Adama Niane was excluded from the group due to indiscipline) are all in good health. We have not changed our ambitions and they remain intact.