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Pivot of USO Nevers, Salif Diallo played in the African Nations Championship with Guinea: “Between disappointment and pride”

The disappointment was immense, commensurate with the challenge they almost met, and the dream that animated them. Finally sixth in the 2022 African Nations Championship, disputed from July 11 to 18 in Egypt, the Guineans will not participate in the world championship, scheduled for next January in Poland and Sweden.

Frustrating, when you know that you had to finish in the five best teams on the continent to get your ticket. Doubly frustrating, when we know that the last match, the one for fifth place, ended in a defeat of one goal, a small goal, against Algeria (26-27).

Being selected and taking part in the Can allowed me to share strong moments with my teammates. I had some playing time, this international experience will serve me

“We lacked freshness at the end of the competition,” said Salif Diallo, Guinean international and pivot of the USO Nevers (Men’s National 2). “I am animated by several feelings, between disappointment and pride. I’m disappointed because I know what we are capable of, and we would have liked to show more. But I’m proud, because no one was expecting us up to this level, ”recalls the 23-year-old, used in the rotation during the competition. “Being selected allowed me to share strong moments with my teammates. I had some playing time, this international experience will serve me well. »

Salif Diallo experienced from the inside the adventure of a selection which had never achieved such a good course, and which does not weigh on the handball planet: zero participation in a World Championship, zero participation in the Olympic Games , three participations in an African Nations Championship (1981, 2020, 2022). “We can’t even compare ourselves with the N2 level. We are, on the scale of Africa, a small selection. And even if Guinea brings together players ranging from the second division to the N3, we are not used to playing together, ”explains the solid pivot.

New opportunity to write history in 2024

The Guinean selection, on the upward slope, had taken advantage, in 2020, of a wave of naturalizations of players mostly born in France to develop. But it will take a little longer for the mayonnaise to set. With, in sight, the next African Nations Championship, in 2024, and the world championship which will follow, in 2025. “Am I already thinking about it?? Sure. It’s even time to think about it, ”smiles Salif Diallo. “It will happen very quickly. Each player in the selection must think about it. I’m not worried, we’re motivated”, the frustration of this sixth place generating even more motivation.

For having rocked Algeria (seven continental titles), the Neversois and his selection partners have earned the right to believe in a happy future. “We still have things to show to mark the history of handball in Guinea”, promises Salif Diallo, who already knows that new selections will go through good performances with USO Nevers. “I proudly represent the colors of this club. I’ve only been there for two seasons, I’ve already seen progress. »

Three wins, two losses

Guinea had started its tournament perfectly, Monday, July 11, with a big victory against Gabon (35-22). She did it again the next day, against Algeria (28-22), during the second and last group match. Beaten by Morocco (24-28) in the quarter-finals on Friday July 15, Salif Diallo and his teammates had been reversed the next day in a semi-final of classification, crossed thanks to a success against Angola (39 -36).

Egypt victorious at home

At the same time, Algeria dominated Congo (40-39) to get revenge against Guinea in the game for fifth place. Egypt, easy winner of Cape Verde (37-25), Monday, July 18, won its eighth African Nations Championship. Earlier in the day, Morocco climbed on the third step after their victory against Tunisia (28-24) in the match for third place.

Owen Cudgel
owen.gourdin@centrefrance.com

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