Tuesday 17 September 2019, 08:30

Free-scoring Diassy aims to lead Senegal to new heights

  • Lansana Diassy is the pivot of Senegal

  • He was top scorer at the 2018 African beach soccer finals

  • Diassy will go to Paraguay with ambition and confidence

Difficult to measure, tough to build up and complicated to explain, confidence is a crucial factor in the success of any player or team. It is the key ingredient behind every goal streak enjoyed by a forward and each run of victories for a side in red-hot form. It is also the fuel that Lansana Diassy claims to "run on", confidence having helped the Senegal team's pivot fire his nation to the African beach soccer title.

Top scorer at the 2018 CAF Africa Beach Soccer Cup of Nations with eight goals, the No9 was the only player to score at least once in all five games at the finals – which served as a qualifying tournament for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Paraguay 2019. "Confidence is essential," he explains. "The confidence I have in myself and the confidence my team-mates and coaches have in me. Of course, you have to put in the work as well."

Lansana Diassy fact file

  • Born: Dakar, 6 April 1990

  • Height: 6'4

  • Club: Golf Beach Club de Dakar

  • Hero: Zlatan Ibrahimovic

  • Favourite team: Paris Saint-Germain

  • Number: 9

  • Position: Pivot

It was also the faith of a coach that convinced him to switch from the 'traditional' game to beach soccer several years ago, and to become one of his nation's finest players. "I got invited to a tournament one day, and a coach there said that I had all the qualities needed to be a success in this discipline. I believed him, I stuck at it, I worked hard … and here I am."

'Here' is tantalisingly close to the summit of the sport. Diassy is now gearing up to compete in his second consecutive Beach Soccer World Cup, having reached the quarter-finals with Senegal on his debut in the Bahamas two years ago. "It's a wonderful memory for me," he says. "Obviously, there's still a little frustration that we went out in the quarter-finals, but I prefer to focus on the positives: it was my first World Cup, I scored and I got to enjoy a superb experience."

Experience v Confidence

Like confidence, experience is another vital asset in the success of any player – and just as difficult to measure, accumulate and explain. For Diassy, it is a lack of experience that has caused his team to regularly fall short on the World Cup stage, despite having now booked their place seven times.

"We've improved over the years," explains Diassy, noting that Senegal's best ever performance was also their most recent. "We need to be given time. Hard work and the experience of big tournaments will help us to grow even more. On a personal level, for example, I'm not the same player I was two years ago: I've progressed both in terms of skill and mentality. I can't wait to prove it."

Diassy will get that opportunity from 21 November onwards as the Beach Soccer World Cup unfolds in Paraguay. The group stage pits Senegal against Belarus, United Arab Emirates and two-time winners Russia, who will be first up for the Lions of Teranga as they kick off their campaign. The perfect occasion, in other words, to test whether confidence can outweigh experience.