June 24, 2021

Cavalli: Niger Republic’s Afcon hopes boil down to Ethiopia fixtures

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With Afcon qualification looking difficult, the Frenchmen is also setting his sights on preparing the Menas for Qatar 2022 qualifiers

Coach Jean-Michel Cavalli is keen on preparing Niger Republic for the 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers as the Menas are walking a tight rope en route to Cameroon 2022.

Losing to Cote d’Ivoire and Madagascar see the West Africans sit at the base of Group K in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

To revive their chances of reaching the biennial African football showpiece for the third time ever, they must defeat Ethiopia in November’s double-header.

Realising the task is an arduous one, Cavalli, who replaced compatriot Jean-Guy Wallemme as the country’s handler, revealed he is now looking forward to build a team for the race to Qatar 2022, albeit, his side will work hard to resuscitate their Afcon hopes.

“Unfortunately, our team lost two crucial Afcon qualifying matches, which has harmed our chances of making the finals,” the 63-year-old told the  Fifa website.

“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.”

Cavalli got off to a good start in his new role, defeating Chad and Sierra Leone in October. Impressed by what he saw, the ex-Lille and Algeria handler is astonished with the high standard of football in Niger Republic.

“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,” he continued.

“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.”