Mugove Chigada in Franceville, Gabon
SENEGALESE defender Kalidou Koulibaly is confident they have what it takes to stop Warriors’ star Khama Billiat at the Stade de Franceville tonight.
Billiat has become the talk of Franceville at the Afcon finals where he displayed qualities that have made him one of the best players in Africa.
His performance against Algeria in their Group B opener has dominated the country’s French television programmes in Gabon, with journalists from Senegal, Algeria and Tunisia keen to know more about the midfielder.
Yesterday Napoli defender Koulibaly, who is rated €75 million, said they will create a brick wall against the Zimbabwe attack.
“Yes, we know them very well and we believe we have very good defenders and are very much prepared,” said Koulibaly, responding to a question on how they would stop the Zimbabwean attack led by Billiat.
The Napoli star, who is on the wish list of the English Premier League’s big guns, said his performance against Tunisia showed that he was back to full fitness ahead of tonight’s tie against the Warriors.
“We feel good and are preparing for the battle against Zimbabwe. We are Senegal and are not afraid of any team, but before we talk about Algeria, we have to talk about Zimbabwe because they will not be easy. Our mindset is okay. I know they highly rate themselves, but what is more important is that we know who we are,” Koulibaly said.
“I know there are moments I have not been active, but I’m now fit. The most important thing is to make sure we fight as team and win the game. Against Tunisia it was difficult, but victory is good and
we are ready to fight. I received a yellow card against Tunisia, but I don’t have to worry,” said the Napoli defender.
Many believe that despite not scoring against Algeria, Billiat was the star of the show and is the man to watch against the Lions of Teranga.
For that reason, fears are that Senegal will go all out to frustrate the Aces Youth Academy product tonight.
Warriors’ captain Willard Katsande believes it will be great if Billiat can divert the Senegalese’s attention.
“I said before the first game that we have dynamites and now they are starting to believe that. We have given them something to think about. I’m sure on the day, it will not only be about Khama, but there will be another talent showing up again,” said Katsande.
“If they decide to make sure that they contain us, we will say to them ‘you have closed this door, but we also have another card to play.’ But at the same time it may still be difficult to contain Khama for them despite knowing him.
“Algeria knew that there was Khama because this is a guy who had been voted the second best African player (based in Africa). But they still could not do anything about it,” he said.
Senegal will be equally dangerous with Liverpool star Sadio Mane leading the attack. Katsande said they would be paying attention to detail.
“Now we are busy preparing for Senegal and we are not leaving anything to chance. We have been watching videos trying to find out how we can break them down, picking up their weaknesses. I think we are mentally and physically ready for the next encounter. I cannot afford to have fear because I’m the captain of the team. The group looks at me as their leader and if I chicken out, it will inject negative energy in them.
“It is a fact that every opponent you play tries to analyse the profile of your players and it is also true that we also try to dig deeper.”
Some analysts think Senegal were lucky to beat Tunisia, whom they believe had them on the ropes in the second half.
Katsande said they will have to put up a shift if they entertain any chances of shocking the continent.
“Obviously it is going to be a very tactical game and how we execute it is going to be very key. Like I said, we need to build-up from the Algerian game and we need collective effort, as anyone from our team can win us the game,” Katsande said.
Article Source: The Chronicle