Burkina Faso has never been this close to a World Cup, according to Sawadogo.
After being named head coach of Burkina Faso’s women’s national team in September 2021, Pascal Sawadogo made an immediate impression by leading the side to a first-ever qualification for the 2022 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations.
Four automatic qualifying spots (the semi-finalists) for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023TM are up for grabs in this competition, which will be held in Morocco from July 2–23. Two of the defeated quarter-finalists will also receive two spots in the intercontinental play-offs.
Pascal Sawadogo discussed his coaching goals, World Cup aspirations, and the development of women’s football in Burkina Faso with FIFA+ ahead of the continental championship.
Pascal Sawadogo: This place welcomed our historic qualification with joy. We’ve been playing together as a group of women for eleven years, and today we can finally see the end of the dark tunnel. We are now able to list Burkina Faso among the nations taking part in the AFCON in July thanks to this accomplishment.
WE'RE BACK! 🤩
The #TotalEnergiesWAFCON2022 kicks off on the 2nd of July! ⚽ 🔜
— #TotalEnergiesWAFCON2022 (@CAFwomen) June 15, 2022
What qualification game stood out to you among the others?
We played the opening leg of our match against Benin in Côte d’Ivoire (2-1). At the interval, we were trailing 1-0, but after regrouping, we were able to turn the game around. The players believed they had the talent and capability to accomplish something big because they had the bravery to come back from being behind and win. We were inspired by the victory, and we used it to our advantage to win the second leg 3-1 in Benin. The first leg was undoubtedly the turning point, or you can say a revelation, since after that we had a foot in the championship tournament in Morocco.
What are your objectives for the AFCON? How would you rate Group A, which includes hosts Morocco, Senegal, and Uganda?
We are, in my opinion, the tournament’s poorest group. I immediately checked up the competition histories of our rivals after the draw. This will be Morocco’s third appearance, but its first in 22 years, I learned. Same goes with Uganda. Senegal hasn’t participated in an event in ten years. Therefore, it’s a coin toss because none of them have very much AFCON experience. All four teams have a chance to win, but I believe that if we are well-prepared, we can compete with anyone.
The #TotalEnergiesWAFCON2022 Official Mascot is here 🤩
— #TotalEnergiesWAFCON2022 (@CAFwomen) June 22, 2022
What do you think about playing against Morocco on July 2?
Although Morocco will benefit from playing at home, I believe it is usually a good idea to play the hosts in the first game. Being in the spotlight is always preferable to playing off-stage. This game will receive a lot of attention. Scouts will start to show an interest in our players if, God willing, we succeed.
Do you believe you have what it takes to win your group and advance to the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023TM?
Our president greeted us at the airport as we had recently achieved history when we were selected for Morocco 2022. We now want to add to the historical record. Therefore, the World Cup is our main goal. In the event that we win our group, we will play one of the top two third-place teams. And if we triumphed in that match, we would qualify for the World Cup. Never before have we come so darn close to earning a World Cup spot. We have everything it takes to win our group, so it’s a goal we can achieve.
🚨 ALERTE DE DEBUTANT 🚨
🇧🇫 Le Burkina Faso est prêt pour sa toute première participation #TotalEnergiesWAFCON 🔥
— #TotalEnergiesWAFCON2022 (@CAFwomen) June 21, 2022
Probably not much is known about your team among the general public. Could you briefly describe a few of your key players as well as the team’s strong points or potential improvement areas?
With at least one or two players who stand out in each position, this team has a lot of promise. Adele Kabre, our No. 10, is highly capable. She has excellent technique, speed, and dribbling ability in addition to outstanding stamina. Additionally, our defender Rouamba Madina and forward Juliette Nana both have good seasons. Because the team that scores first in our championships here has a 50% chance of winning, we still need to build on our mental toughness .So that you may continue pushing forward in search of victory, you must learn to continue playing even when you fall behind and not panic.
🇧🇫 Juliette Nana 🆚 Misozi Zulu 🇿🇲
— #TotalEnergiesWAFCON2022 (@CAFwomen) June 21, 2022
How would you rate Burkina Faso’s women’s football development in general?
Our issue in Burkina Faso is that we lack success stories to serve as role models; we lack a player who has achieved success in a professional league. It’s easy to envision your child’s future when you enrol them in school, but it might be challenging to do so when they play football. Parents are hesitant to allow their daughters to play since there aren’t many successful models, and the girls themselves aren’t sure they can support themselves through football.
What modifications do you believe are possible?
We’ll aim to use this AFCON to highlight those of our team members who need to be successful enough to play in Europe, grab the attention of parents, and persuade them to let their daughters take up the sport. In general, women’s football in this city is always overshadowed by the men’s game. We must have role models and success stories if we want women’s football to grow.
Do you believe there is political will in the nation to advance women’s football, and is the infrastructure adequate for your team?
The infrastructure for female athletes is different from that for male athletes. For instance, we are attempting to play on a grass field in Ouagadougou. The fields are not turf outside of the top division and in the hinterland. Additionally, no women’s football teams currently have their own stadium. But we’re working to make changes. We conduct workshops and seminars, and even have an action plan for the years 2020–2024 that was agreed upon with the current head of the [Burkina Faso football] federation. Being able to realise and deliver our ideas is now necessary; having ideas is one thing.
Do you have a mentor in coaching?
Sir Alex Ferguson, indeed. I wore a Ryan Giggs jersey during my high school years because what an incredible player he was. I look up to Sir Alex, who oversaw United for 26 years. He was also the one who inspired me to become a coach. He is a leader and a person of many ideals, particularly social ones. I respect the way he handled the players and the supporters. For his teammates, what he did off the field and in the locker room was equally essential. What happens off the field is just as important to a coach as what occurs there. This social aspect of things greatly motivated me.
Do the members of the squad live by a motto?
I frequently tell the players that life is about their studies, their football, and their personal lives. All three of these are simultaneously possible.