“If you don’t have a good cook you can’t have a good dish.”
Teenage midfielder Hicham Boudaoui, the youngest and only home-based member of the squad, said Belmadi had “won the players over” with his unwavering commitment.
“He gave a spirit to the players, they love him, that’s the secret of what he brought to the team. He gives us a lot of advice, we listen to him. He won the players over.”
With a squad backing him to the hilt, Belmadi again outfoxed old friend Aliou Cisse in the first Cup of Nations final between two African coaches in 21 years as Senegal’s vaunted attack floundered when it mattered most.
“It perhaps wasn’t our best match in terms of what we produced, but we were the best attack in the tournament and the best defence alongside Senegal,” Belmadi summarised.
“It’s a deserved victory if you look at the tournament. The players have done incredible work. We’ve prepared for this Cup of Nations for a long time. It’s not easy living with this pressure every day of wanting to go all the way. They have been fabulous.”