Oumarou making plans for Niger
Niger have three points from two Qatar 2022 qualifying matches
Double header against African champions Algeria coming up on Matchdays 3 and 4
Niger defender Youssouf Oumarou discusses his side’s chances
Niger made a slow start in Group A of the second round of the African qualifying competition for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, losing 2-0 at home to Burkina Faso in their opening match. The scoreline did not reflect the balance of play, however, with Niger creating a host of chances but failing to take any of them. Thankfully for the Nigeriens, they bounced back a few days later with a convincing 4-2 win in Djibouti. Those three points have put Niger a point behind frontrunners Algeria and Burkina Faso. The Nigeriens have back-to-back matches against the Algerians coming up and have their sights set on top spot in what is a tight section. Though many expect Algeria to cruise into the third and final round of qualifying, there is every reason to believe the race in Group A will go down to the wire. FIFA.com spoke to Niger’s defensive mainstay, Youssouf Oumarou, about their chances of progressing. He began by reflecting on that opening-day defeat to Burkina Faso. “It was a game we should have won,” he said. “We created a lot of chances but, unfortunately, we weren’t sharp enough in front of goal. We put that right against Djibouti. We went behind but managed to come back and get the three points in the second half. “We missed a lot of chances against Burkina Faso in both halves. Even after we went 2-0 down, we kept creating them and we still could have won.”
African kings up next
Niger have put those first two games behind them and are now focusing on their imminent double header against Algeria on Matchdays 3 and 4. With stars of the calibre of Riyad Mahrez in the Desert Foxes’ line-up, Oumarou and his colleagues are sure to face a stern test. “We know all about Algeria’s strengths,” said the defender. “They’re the reigning African champions and they’ve been unbeaten for a long time now. We’re hoping to end that run. We’re really pumped about it.” Niger know what it means to end the long unbeaten run of an African powerhouse, having done just that to Egypt in 2010, a precedent they can take confidence from. “Egypt had gone without losing for a long time too and we went and beat them in 2010,” recalled Oumarou. “Funnily enough, that game was in October as well. You can sense the optimism running through the team.” Niger coach Jean-Michel Cavalli knows Algeria well, having coached the national team and several of the country’s clubs, including Mouloudia Club d’Oran and USM Alger. Discussing Cavalli’s attributes, Oumarou said: “That gives us a bit of an advantage. He did a great job with Algeria and the clubs he coached there. He knows exactly how to stop them. “We’re delighted with Cavalli’s appointment, given all the experience he has. He’s a great coach who’s achieved some big things in his career.
Niger had to play their group opener against Burkina Faso in the Moroccan city of Marrakech because their usual home stadium, the Stade General Seyni Kountchi, in the Nigerien capital of Niamey, was being refurbished. With that work having now been completed, Oumarou and his team-mates are looking forward to taking on Algeria at home and in front of their own fans. “It’s very important for us,” he explained. “It’s great news. Our fans will be so happy to see us back in Niamey. They’ll be coming to the stadium to support us and cheer us on to victory. “Our objective is to go far and play every game with the same level of determination. Nothing would be nicer than to beat Algeria. It’s another of our goals.”