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Senegal goalkeeper trying to keep Brazil from history

16 June 2015, 14:13

Wellington - While penalty shootouts can reduce even the toughest of players to nervous wrecks, Senegal goalkeeper Ibrahima Sy believes he has a "gift" for saving spotkicks, which could come in handy against Brazil in Wednesday's under-20 World Cup semi-finals.

The 19-year-old emerged as a fan favourite early at the tournament with his exuberant displays as Senegal's last line of defence and his reputation was enhanced when he saved three spotkicks in a shootout against Ukraine in the last 16.

That prowess may be put to the test against the Brazilians, who advanced to the last four after shootout victories in the last 16 and quarter-finals.

"I have a gift for saving penalties," Sy told FIFA's website. "I can't explain it. It's just something I have.

"On top of that, it's such a boost to keep goal for Senegal. I'm proud of that. I'm a true Senegalese, so I'm a warrior. I give everything for my people."

While the West Africans are appearing at the tournament for the first time, Brazil have won the competition five times and despite unconvincing performances in the last two rounds will start as heavy favourites in Christchurch on Wednesday.

Also read: Korea coach says they were “too easy” on Nigeria

Rogerio Micale's side beat a defensive Uruguay on penalties in the round of 16 and were outclassed by Portugal in their quarter-final in Hamilton before the Europeans suffered an attack of nerves in the penalty shootout with Raphael Guzzo, Andre Silva and Nuno Santos all missing from the spot.

"They were better than us but, that being said, I don't think anyone can say that we didn't deserve to go through," Micale said after the quarter-final.

"Though we haven't had much time to work together, we've still been able to push on and reach the last four, which shows the quality of Brazilian football."

The winner of the match in Christchurch will meet either Serbia or Mali in the final in Auckland on Saturday. The two sides met in the group stage with Serbia winning 2-0.

The Serbs are making their first appearance at the tournament as an independent nation, though Yugoslavia won the title in 1987 and Serbian defender Milos Veljkovic said that team was very much in their thinking.

"Everyone still talks about the Yugoslavia team that won in Chile and we know how famous those players became," Veljkovic said.

"But although we want to do the same as them, we're not feeling under pressure. We've already had a great tournament and we're just enjoying every moment."

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- Reuters


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