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Mali coach Eric Chelle opens up about Yves Bissouma’s role and Mali’s technical superiority

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Eric Chelle, coach of the Mali national team, has provided insight into Yves Bissouma’s journey since the 2023 African Cup of Nations (AFCON), shedding light on his pivotal role within the Malian squad.

Upon assuming his role as head coach, Chelle made it a priority to personally engage with each player, including Bissouma, expressing his intention to entrust him with a central role in the team, symbolically handing him “the keys to the truck” to demonstrate his confidence and increased responsibility.

However, Chelle acknowledged a misjudgment in initially deploying Bissouma as a playmaker, or number 10, citing the player’s exceptional technical skills, particularly his adept ball control, as the rationale behind this decision.

In response to Bissouma’s dissatisfaction with this role, Chelle opted for a tactical shift, experimenting with him in a defensive midfield position, aiming to better capitalize on his abilities.

Despite Bissouma’s health issues during the CAN, Chelle praised his exceptional preparation.

In an unexpected revelation, Chelle emphasized Mali’s technical superiority over other African teams, asserting that his squad excels in terms of possession and game control.

He confidently stated, “For a while now, teams, when they play against us, if they want to play in terms of possession and technical quality, they don’t exist. They are not able to compete with us.”

However, reflecting on Mali’s recent defeat, Chelle pointed to the pivotal intervention of Ivorian striker Sébastien Haller, whose presence altered the dynamics of the match.

Haller’s aerial prowess forced Mali’s defensive block to retreat, posing significant challenges in aerial duels.

Chelle’s candid remarks provide an intriguing glimpse into Mali’s footballing strategy and the evolving role of key players like Yves Bissouma.

As Mali continues to navigate the complexities of international football, Chelle’s insights offer valuable perspectives on the team’s aspirations and challenges on the global stage.

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