Rennes winger Ismaila Sarr has thrown his full weight behind coach Aliou Cisse, despite Senegal’s early World Cup exit.
A 2-1 win over Poland and a 2-2 draw with Japan were not enough to send Senegal through to the last-16 round after they lost 1-0 to Colombia in their last group game.
The omission of experienced stars like Crystal Palace full-back Pape Souare, Newcastle United’s Mohamed Diame, Saint-Etienne left-back Cheikh Mbengue and Pape Kouly Diop of La Liga side Eibar from the final World Cup squad was drew criticism from some quarters.
With much of the responsibility of their World Cup exit falling on Cisse’s shoulder, Sarr has defended his coach’s team selection.
“We have a good coach,” Sarr told French magazine L'Obs.
“Those who hold criticism (against Cisse) do not live with the squad. If they were there, they would know his value. I do not agree with those who think he is fumbling.
“The coach has his choices. He can be wrong just as he can be right. The choices belongs to him. Personally, I think he made good choices. If the coach opts for a player, it is certainly that he has confidence in him.”
Cisse's job looks to be secure with the Senegal Football Federation hinting on his stay.
Sarr though, is one of the young Senegal players expected to carry the team in future.
“I found great players who are the leaders of this team. I will mention Sadio Mané, Mame Biram Diouf, Moussa Sow, Cheikhou Kouyate, Idrissa Gana Gueye ....I am following their footsteps to be able to occupy the place of leader in this team one day,” Sarr said.
After the unsuccessful World Cup campaign, Senegal now shift their focus to the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, with a trip to Madagascar scheduled for September.