Nouakchott - Mauritania will give of their best when they make their debut at the African Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Egypt in June, according to coach Corentin da Silva Martins.
The 49-year-old mentor guided the north-west African country to the continental showpiece courtesy of a 2-1 win over Botswana back in November last year.
Now that the Mourabitounes, as the team is known, have qualified for Afcon, the aim is to stay in the company of the top 24 football nations on the continent, is the view of the coach.
“The victory for our first game in Botswana was important, “ said Martins. “In the double confrontation with Angola, we were able to react at home to win and pave the way for a qualification, which we did by beating Botswana again.”
“That game was difficult to prepare as people saw us already qualified before we even played,” he added.
He applauded the country’s national football body for the emphasis placed on youth development.
“In the future, Mauritania will have quality teams because the work done by the President and the National Technical Director is bearing fruit,” commented the coach.
“When I arrived four years ago, there was only a first division championship. We have had first and second division championships for two years now. Not to mention the under 19, under 17 and under 15, women’s teams.”
“It’s extraordinary. Next year, we even start with an under 13 championship. Few countries in Africa have these opportunities. These youth championships will feed into national teams and even the A team.”
Da Silva said that the key to further upgrading the standard of the national team can be seen through the increase of the number of players who are now playing for foreign clubs.
“Four years ago, only six players on Team A played abroad for 17 local players,” said Martins
“Today, it’s the opposite with only 6 local players. The selection has really become a showcase.” -Nampa/ANA