Alain Giresse is, at 60, coaching his fourth national team, having taken over the Senegal reins early this year. Previously, the former France midfielder led Georgia, Gabon and Mali, and his task is to qualify the Lions of Teranga for the FIFA World Cup™ for a second time.
FIFA.com: Alain, what led you to coach Senegal?
Alain Giresse: Senegal is a French-speaking country, with most of their players learning the game in Europe, and it is a real footballing nation. It is a choice in line with my previous experiences in Gabon and Mali.
You made your debut with a 1-1 friendly draw against Guinea on 5 February in France. Did you find players still affected by the then-ongoing CAF Africa Cup of Nations and missing out on that event?
No. I did not want to rehash the past with them, and they were not trying to do that either. What would it have served to reopen some wounds? Nothing. We will not rewrite history. I look ahead and I am planning for the future. I don't have time to dwell on the past.
You have not gone back and watched last year’s matches?
I've seen some of Senegal's macthes. I didn't need to watch them again as I would not have learned anything in particular. Since my appointment on 10 January, I have not had much time. I had to appoint a technical staff, which is overwhelmingly local, publish a list of 23 players for the friendly match against Guinea, plus go to Gambia, where our next match against Angola might have occurred – although finally we chose Conakry, Guinea as the stadium in Banjul was not satisfactory.
You recalled several players for the match against Guinea...
No, it is not quite that. I didn't recall those players, I called them up. I just arrived and I repeat, if it happened before, it's not my problem. Some players hadn’t been in the team for some time, but I think what interests me is to know who I can count on. That is the only question. I have a project and I ask those who are selected to follow. If this is not the case, they can tell me, which will prevent them from wasting their time and mine.
Did you learn from that friendly match?
It isn't obvious. I only spent three days with the players, so I have not really had time to get to know them. I need to know how they live, how they train. But it was a first contact. The game itself allowed me to play almost everyone. The result is what it is. It was only a friendly match, even if the result is always important.
You will face Angola in Brazil 2014 qualifying in March, on neutral ground in Conakry, Guinea. This must be a disadvantage for you?
Yes, but there were some serious incidents during the match in Dakar against Côte d'Ivoire in October last year (abandoned at 0-2 in qualifying for the 2013 African finals), and we are dealing with the consequences. It is a particular situation. We will not have the feeling of being at home, but we have to deal with it.
Senegal top Group J in Brazil 2014 qualifying, and it seems your priority is to reach Brazil...
I signed a two-year contract. I do not know of any coach who has any other aim besides winning. Qualification for the 2014 World Cup is a goal, as is reaching the 2015 Cup of Nations in Morocco.
Will you make your base in Dakar?
Yes. As I did in Gabon and Mali, I will settle in the country that employs me. I will attend league games, Champions League and Confederation Cup, meet local coaches, etc. I do not see my role differently, even if I am called upon to travel to Europe to supervise and meet internationals as well.