- Niger in the identical FIFA World Cup™ qualifying group as Algeria
- Cavalli beforehand coached Algeria and some of the nation’s main golf equipment
- The French coach discusses new mission and prospect of going through The Greens
In March this 12 months, Jean-Michel Cavalli was en path to Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport to fly to the Niger capital Niamey to signal a contract to educate the nation’s nationwide workforce. As destiny would have it, the airport closed instantly as a consequence of coronavirus fears, and Cavalli was unable to journey. Football officers in Niger, nonetheless, had been decided to safe his providers, and so each events agreed to attend just a few extra months earlier than making the appointment official.
For the Frenchman, that vote of confidence was a optimistic signal. Niger’s insistence on sticking with him regardless of the delay, and his personal want to take up the position, boded properly for a profitable collaboration.
In an unique interview with FIFA.com, Cavalli mentioned his new mission and the challenges forward.
“I chose this country because I felt comfortable with the officials I dealt with,” he defined. “For my part, I always gave them priority despite the many offers I got. This mutual respect was a good starting point for me to coach the team.”
As with each different coach in Africa, the primary goal when a contract is signed is to succeed in the CAF Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
“Unfortunately, our team lost two crucial AFCON qualifying matches, which has harmed our chances of making the finals. But that doesn’t mean we won’t work hard to make amends. For me, it’s a bit like taking over at the halfway point. If this were still the beginning [of qualifying], the story would probably be different. I believe our chances of reaching the finals depend on the two upcoming matches against Ethiopia. But in addition to reaching the Africa Cup finals, our aim is to build a solid team to compete strongly in the World Cup qualifiers.”
The French coach was shocked with the excessive customary of soccer in Niger, the place he’s working for the primary time. “In the months I spent at home before coming here, I had a chance to study the players and line-ups. I was astonished by the abilities I witnessed here, with some players easily capable of playing in Europe.”
Cavalli acquired off to a very good begin within the new job, profitable his first two friendlies in October. “Although we had two players injured, my team was competitive and at the required level. In the space of three days, we won two friendly matches against Chad and Sierra Leone. Although these aren’t big names in Africa, I can say from experience that there are no small teams. You can see this in what happened to me when I coached Algeria – where the team were when I arrived and how far they went.”
The draw for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ qualifying pitted Niger in a tough group with reigning continental champions Algeria, Burkina Faso and Djibouti. Asked what he thought of this quartet, Cavalli replied: “We’re in a gaggle containing three groups at about the identical degree. The fourth are the African champions. Our match towards Algeria might be like a remaining, and they’ll undoubtedly be agency favourites. However, we’ve to present ourselves probabilities in these qualifiers. Even if it’s a one-in-a-thousand shot, we’ll go all out for it.
“My teams always present difficulties for opponents. Everyone remembers when I coached Algeria and we played great football in our friendlies against Brazil and Argentina in 2007,” he added.
Cavalli was in cost of Algeria for about two years, which is able to make the World Cup qualifying conflict between the edges very particular for him. “I don’t place that much importance on the fact that I coached Algeria and know their football very well. I’ll aim to do the impossible with my team because I love to compete. At any rate, we have nothing to lose in this group. Algerian football has developed a great deal in recent times, particularly at senior-team level and in terms of sporting infrastructure, and their players are at some of the world’s biggest clubs.”
Because his tenure in cost of Algeria solely lasted from 2006 to 2007, Cavalli feels he missed an opportunity to take a facet to the World Cup. Understandably, it’s one thing he would like to do with Niger now.
“Reaching the World Cup finals is the dream of each coach. If we handle to do that with Niger, it might be an historic achievement. I personally misplaced out on the prospect to take part within the 2010 World Cup. I labored with Algeria for 22 months however left earlier than the qualifiers kicked off. But my work there throughout that point nonetheless paid off.
“Before I left Algeria, I remember telling Hamid Haddadj, the president of the country’s football federation at the time, that the team were well prepared for the World Cup qualifiers, and that I’d be their number one supporter. I was almost certain that they’d qualify given the good work we’d done in the previous months. The proof was that we ended the first half of our friendly against Argentina leading 2-0 and the first half of the Brazil one drawing 0-0. These South American sides were ranked one and two respectively by FIFA at the time. So, I certainly dream of leading a team to the World Cup before I call time on my coaching career.”
But who’re the favourites to symbolize Africa at Qatar 2022 in his opinion? “Algeria and Senegal are in the perfect form to qualify, in addition to Morocco, however I consider we’re in for a shock or two within the upcoming qualifiers.”