KEIR RADNEDGE in MANCHESTER: No-one who saw Senegal win the intercontinental play-off against Oman in Coventry would have been surprised to see them not only draw with the scratch Great Britain team but deserve that draw.
They have a youthful energy and physicality which always spelled trouble for a British team in a state of fragile fitness. The problem for them now is that Uruguay are next – which means another physical game which could end in tears.
Coach Aliou Cisse was well satisfied with the 1-1 draw at Old Trafford.
He said: “It was always going to be a difficult match because , we knew the quality of the Great Britain team with players like Ryan Giggs and Craig Bellamy who are at a very high level. But we always believed in our chance of doing something good and the boys worked incredibly hard. We deserved that result because we worked really hard for it.
“Uruguay are a very physical team. We saw the second half of their game against the UAE. But we’ve got a few days in which to recover and then try to do even better than we did today. I’m confident. The fact that we are not the favourites means that we have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
Quite the opposite for Great Britain.
Coach Stuart Pearce acknowledged the crucial importance of over-age Craig Bellamy and Ryan both on the pitch and off it in preparing for Sunday’s Wembley duel with the United Arab Emirates. No doubt about it: Britain must win to keep their hopes alive.
Pearce conceded that a draw against Senegal was a fair result, adding: “The fact that we got our noses in front and didn’t nail the game was a frustration. But it’s only our third match together and we have another tough game on Sunday; the group looks as if it might be wide open.
“We’ve had a team together only two and a half but there’s no point bellyaching about it; that’s the fact of it.
“It would have been nice to have won but first game are always nervous affairs. Still, the atmosphere was fantastic and if that can be replicated on Sunday and then again in the Millennium Stadium [in Cardiff next Wednesday] we’ll have a chance.”
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