Sarr Sally of Mauritania is challenged by Thamsanqa Gabuza of South Africa during the AFCON Qualifier match between South Africa and Mauritania 02 September 2016 at Mbombela Stadium Pic Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix
Friday Aug 04, 2017. 20:00
Mauritania head coach Corentin Martins has firmly set his sights on leading the West African nation to a first ever Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament.
Les Mourabitones have never qualified for Africa's premier cup competition, but the country have made significant strides over the past few years. Testament to their recent success, Mauritania reached their highest FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking last month - climbing 23 places to 81st.
The position is Mauritania's highest ever ranking with their previous best of 85th achieved in 1995. They subsequently find themselves higher than 2012 AFCON champions Zambia.
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For Martins, hard work has paid off with victory over Liberia in the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifiers, preceded by an impressive 1-0 away win over Botswana in a 2019 AFCON qualifier.
Mauritania also notable beat South Africa 3-1 in Nouakchott during the 2017 AFCON qualifying campaign.
"It's the best ranking position in Mauritania's history," the national side's French coach Corentin Martins told FIFA.com. "What's made it possible is the huge amount of work put in by the government, national association and the players, who give everything to win games. Nor can we forget the president of the national association, who has made every effort to help us."
"We got an important win in Botswana despite difficult conditions," said Martins. "Nevertheless, we have to build on that. We have to give everything on the pitch in order to win, and that's what our players have been doing. They've been following their instructions to the letter, and it's a pleasure to work with them," he concluded.