Edouard Mendy carries the ‘blind faith’ of his Senegal boss Aliou Cisse and his teammates as the African champions attempt to pile more misery on hosts Qatar.
Chelsea goalkeeper Mendy was at fault for the first goal as his team lost 2-0 to Holland on Monday.
Now they go head to head with the home nation and Asian champions in Doha’s Al Thumama Stadium on Friday, with the losers painfully aware they are unlikely to progress from Group A.
‘Edouard doing very well, he has a steel resolve,’ said Cisse. ‘We chatted about the game. Edouard’s qualities speak for himself. He has had highs and lows but he has my blind trust. He will be on the pitch.’
Mendy’s Chelsea teammate Kalidou Koulibaly also backed his friend, who was the penalty shootout hero of Senegal’s African Cup of Nations triumph in February.
‘We play at the same club, we are brothers in arms for Senegal and we speak a lot together,’ said Koulibaly. ‘He’s a very important player for us and it’s totally normal to go through difficult phases.
‘I think we are making a mountain out of a molehill. When a team loses, it’s not down to one player, it’s all of us, so we shouldn’t be making such a big deal about it. Edouard knows what he has to do and so do we – and we need everyone to get stuck in.
‘It won’t be easy. We started with a loss and we do have our backs against the wall but we are the lions and we will try for six points out of six. Our mentality will be like that of warriors.’
After years of preparation and controversy, Qatar had to swallow the ignominy of becoming the first hosts to lose the opening game, a 2-0 defeat against Ecuador on Sunday, and are in danger of crashing out of the competition in just six days.
‘We dream we are ready so that doesn’t happen,’ said their Spanish manager Felix Sanchez. ‘The statistics can be drawn how you want but we are a small country with a reduced population.
‘We think only of ourselves and our pathway. There was a long-term plan and I’m sure after the World Cup we will keep improving.’