Senegal coach Alain Giresse hails team’s fighting spirit

Senegal coach Alain Giresse toasted a come-from-behind 2-1 win against Ghana in the Africa Cup of Nations Group C opener but called for his team not to get carried away.

“It is always better to take three points, but it doesn’t mean we are guaranteed to qualify, just as the defeat for Ghana does not mean they are eliminated,” Giresse said after Moussa Sow’s stoppage-time goal clinched victory in Mongomo.

“There are still two matches to play. The efforts we put in during the second half are an encouraging sign. At half-time I said to the players that nothing was lost. At 1-0 down with 45 minutes left, there was no doubts. We went back out onto the field with conviction,” added the 62-year-old Frenchman, who is an experienced Africa-hand having also coached the Gabon and Mali national teams as well as a Moroccan club side.

Giresse saw his side fall behind to a 14th-minute Andre Ayew penalty before opting to change formation at half-time as Nantes defender Papy Djilobodji was withdrawn. That alteration helped the Lions of Teranga equalise through Mame Biram Diouf before Sow’s last-gasp winner.

“The change at half-time was purely tactical. We switched to four at the back because we needed to rebalance the team, but that does not call into question Djilobodji’s first-half display.”

Meanwhile, the hero of the hour Sow said: “I was disappointed to not be in the starting line-up, which is normal because I am a competitor. I want to play and to win. The coach’s decisions need to be respected but it’s true that it was me who came on and scored, so there you go,” added the 29-year-old.

Senegal, who have never won the Cup of Nations, next face South Africa on Friday, with Algeria their other opponents in an extremely testing group.