Chelsea

Chelsea star Kalidou Koulibaly backs Edouard Mendy as Senegal make huge World Cup decision

Football.London

Chelsea and Senegal defender Kalidou Koulibaly has backed club and international teammate Edouard Mendy to recapture his best form after a recent dip in performances. The goalkeeper has struggled in recent months, failing to stamp his place as number one under new boss Graham Potter.

His performances helped his nation Senegal reach the FIFA World Cup finals after beating Egypt on penalties in a repeat of the AFCON result that also saw Mendy become a national hero. The competition offered the shot-stopper a chance to find his feet again, but the opener was far from easy.

Senegal faced off against Netherlands, where two late goals saw the European side earn a huge win, with one of those coming from a mistake made by Mendy. Discussing his form, Koulibaly backed his teammate and told the press before their next clash against Qatar: “We [Koulibaly and Mendy] do speak a lot, we play at the same club and we are brothers in arms for Senegal. He is a very important player for us, it is normal to go through difficult phases.

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“We are making a mountain out of a molehill here. He knows what he needs to do tomorrow, and the rest of the team do as well and we are going to try to put everything together to pull something out of the bag.

“When a team loses it’s not down to one player, it’s down to the whole team. We are going to do everything we can to change this but I don’t think we should be making a big deal of this. I am not worried, I know Edouard will be on top of his game tomorrow.”

His poor form has led to questions over whether he will start the game against the host nation, with Seny Dieng and Alfred Gomis waiting in the wings. Despite that, manager Aliou Cisse appears to have made his decision on a starting goalkeeper: “Edouard doing very well, he has a steel resolve.

“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.”

With Mendy looking to make a response, he will be hopeful that the clash against Qatar could be a turning point for him and his nation, who will need a win to give them a shot of qualifying before their final group stage game against Ecuador.

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