Senegal forward Keita Balde frustrated by limited World Cup role

The Spain-born Monaco forward only started in the 1-0 defeat to Colombia in their World Cup Group H closing match, which sent Senegal back home early.

Senegal striker Keita Balde has expressed frustration at being left on the bench against Poland and Japan in Russia.

Balde only tasted action for 80 minutes when he started against Colombia, as coach Alou Cisse preferred to start with Torino forward Mbaye Niang and Mame Biram Diouf.

After sitting out the first two games, 23-year-old Balde admits he did not have a dream World Cup as he cherished, having been hailed in recent years as one of Senegal’s brightest football prospects.

“I think all players are like that,” he was quoted as saying by Senegalese publication Le Rufisquois.

“We all want to play the maximum games to bring more to the team. Now I acknowledge that I was a bit frustrated to be on the bench.

“I think I had a good match (against Colombia). I was present on defensive work. Offensively, I managed to create some opportunities and deliver some passes. I will continue to work to improve and meet the expectations of the coach.”

Remaining in the tournament as Africa’s biggest hope, Senegal were eliminated at the group phase on Fifa’s new fair play ruling.

This was after finishing the group games tied on the same number of points with Japan, whom they also had a similar goal difference and number of goals scored, and had drawn 2-2 with Japan in the second match.

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Former Barcelona youth player Keita believes that despite being knocked out at the group stages, Senegal should not be ruled out as a serious football force in the world.

“I am sure that, as we have shown in this World Cup, we deserve the respect of all the teams in the world. We went out of the group but we can say that’s because of a lack of luck.”

It is to be seen if Cisse will hand Balde a central role when Senegal resume Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers away in Madagascar in September.