In Mauritania, football resumes despite the health crisis

During the Super D1 championship match between ACS Ksar and Nouakchott Kings, Friday September 4, 2020 in Nouakchott.

The Mauritanians have been waiting for it for almost six months, which is to say an eternity. Between two thunderstorms and despite the torrential rains that fell last weekend in Nouakchott, the football championship resumed its course in Mauritania.

For everyone, it is much more than relief. “The wait has been long and it is a huge satisfaction”, welcomed Baba Seck, coach of the Nouakchott Kings, whose team won against that of Ksar (1-0) in the opening match at the Cheikha-Ould-Boïdiya stadium. “We were nostalgic for the pitch and at the start of the match I couldn’t keep still”, assures striker Abderrahmane Sy. ” I felt a lot of emotions at the kickoff, adds Mbacké Ndiaye, goalkeeper. Football is my life, my passion. “

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Abruptly interrupted in mid-March because of the Covid-19, the Super D1, which has fourteen teams, had stopped on the evening of the 20e day. Unlike other championships in the world – notably Ligue 1 in France – the elite of Mauritanian football will play all its matches in the 2019-2020 season.

“We felt that there was too much interest and that we had to play the last seven days, explains Pope Amghar Dieng, president of the League. By mid-October, all matches will have been contested and broadcast live on television. After a break of about twenty days, we will start a new season if the virus leaves us alone. “ In Mauritania, 7,165 people were affected by the epidemic which killed 160 people on September 9.

“Ambiance” the meetings

If football has resumed its rights, it remains under close surveillance. The matches are played behind closed doors. So for “Ambience” meetings, the stadium’s sound system broadcasts supporters’ songs for 90 minutes. As the changing rooms are condemned in order to limit promiscuity, it is in the stands that the players, who should not shake hands before the kick-off as is the tradition as a sign of fair play, put on their jersey and put on their crampons.

This is also where the coach gives his final instructions, a few moments before the minute of silence which is observed before each meeting in tribute to the victims of the pandemic.

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“It’s quite disturbing to give your pre-match speech in the stands, but you have to adapt well, relativizes Baba Seck. We don’t really have a choice and we must protect everyone’s health. “ In a Mauritanian capital where barrier gestures seem a little forgotten lately, football wants to set an example. Wearing a mask is compulsory around the field and in the official stand, where managers and journalists can only enter after a temperature reading and wearing a badge.

The Mourabitounes against the Lions of Teranga

“We have implemented a fairly restrictive protocol, but it allows us to see the future calmly, Pope Amghar Dieng believes. All club presidents have pledged to enforce barrier measures during matches, but also during training which resumed in clubs around August 10. “

The resumption of the Super D1 and Super D2 championships also heralds the resumption of international matches. All Mauritanians already have their eyes on the friendly meeting that will pit their team against the Senegalese giant on October 13 in Thiès. In preparation for this derby and the next events, coach Corentin Martins traveled from France to attend this resumption of the championship.

Read also CAN 2019: for Mauritania, a historic first match

“I am coming back to Mauritania after nine months of absence, welcomes the former playmaker of the Blues, who qualified the Mourabitounes for their first African Cup of Nations (CAN) in July 2019 in Egypt. It was important for me to see the local players evolve and to see their state of form. “

In the light of this first match, it remains to fluidify the combinations of play, to find automatisms. “We saw relatively little intensity, but the players will gain confidence over the meetings, adds Moustapha Sall, assistant coach. After almost six months of interruption, it takes playing time to regain rhythm. “


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