Karl Hall of Seychelles battles with Danny Phiri of Zimbabwe ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix
Tuesday Oct 06, 2015. 12:32
The Seychelles will be hoping to record their first ever victory in the World Cup qualifiers when they take in Burundi on Wednesday. Kick off at 2pm.
The Indian Ocean island-state first entered World Cup qualification in 2002 and managed to draw their opening game against Namibia 1-1, but were knocked out after losing the return leg in Windhoek 3-0. Since then, the Pirates have played a further 10 matches, drawing one and losing the other nine.
The team's record in the CAF Africa Cup of Nations is hardly better and the only shining light has been the country's performance in the Indian Ocean Island Games, which they managed to win on home soil in 2011 after beating Mauritius on penalties in the final. To date, it remains the country's biggest footballing success.
Coming this match, coach Ralph Jean-Louis is aware that expectations are high for this second stint.
“It puts pressure on us, but I am a hard worker. What people expect are good results, and I am going to try and give them good results as much as I can. But if it does not come, I will take all the responsibility that comes with that.
“We have a good squad, but it will all depend on the availability on the day of the match. At the moment the World Cup qualifier is the biggest objective because in the qualifiers for the Africa Cup of Nations we have already lost against Algeria and drawn against Ethiopia. So it is going to be difficult to qualify. But for the World Cup, it is a new competition, and I have called a group of new players.”
The overwhelming majority of players Jean-Louis has at his disposal ply their trade in the Seychelles' domestic league – many at St. Michel, the club he will continue coaching until the beginning of next year.
“In the Seychelles we have a different kind of game compared to the African continent. We are unique that in our football, the pace is a bit slow, but there is a good tactical understanding. My game plan will depend on the players I have on the day. But basically all teams at home want to go offensive because you have the support of the fans and everyone is behind you."
On the other hand Burundi will also be looking at making history as they have never qualified for the World Cup or the Africa Cup of Nations finals. However, Burundi did come very close to qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations in 1994, losing only on penalties to Guinea in a playoff.