CAN neighborhoods: in Mantes-la-Jolie, immense fervor and “crazy pressure” before the Morocco-Algeria final

Unless you live in a densely populated city of 20,000 inhabitants, no one can imagine what Sofiane and Oualid are feeling a few hours before the final of the “Coupe des nations mantaises”, this amateur football tournament organized in Mantes-la- Jolie (Yvelines) where the players wear the colors of a European or African country.

Each of these two captains will play, this Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Jean-Paul-David stadium (free entry, catering on site) under the colors of Morocco, for Sofiane, and Algeria for Oualid. A dream poster for the supporters of the two camps who are vying for the sporting leadership of the Maghreb. Aged 23 and 26 respectively, the two young men shared their impressions on the eve of the final.

Little competition but big pressure

First, the pressure. “She’s been there all the time since we’ve known we’re in the final,” says Sofiane, a Bachelor student in charge of IT affairs. “As soon as I go out, there is always someone to tell me: We have to win on Saturday, we have to beat them. Even if it’s amateur, the pressure is crazy. In the stands, there will be my friends, my family. I don’t want to disappoint them. I know that if I do something stupid, a missed gesture, I will hear about it for months, ”laughs the young man, Morocco jersey on his shoulders.

Oualid evokes a similar context: “You can’t set foot outside without someone talking to you about it! says this young entrepreneur who played as a professional in Angers (Maine-et-Loire) then in Algeria. For this slender defender, the pressure emanating from the thousands of spectators present is sometimes completely crazy. “On the ground, we don’t even hear each other so much the stands are shouting. But it’s not just in the stands! Imagine: during the last penalty shootout, before I started, I had a whole crowd two meters away from me, who were chambering, who were shouting at me “you’re going to miss”! In this case, you have to know how to remain unmoved and the high level experience has helped me a lot. The atmosphere promises to be hot as kops are preparing. But I know that everything will remain festive. »

Preparation like the pros

Despite the friendly nature of this meeting, the two athletes prepared very seriously. Thanks to his habits acquired at a high level, the “Algerian” has not upset his peaceful daily life, between restful sleep and balanced food. He kept the workouts light. Small advantage compared to its “Moroccan” competitor: the management of the heat wave. Having played in Algeria, he knows the scorching temperatures, “this feeling of breathing heat”.

Sofiane forbade himself to dine out during the week and watched his sleep. He avoided football matches with friends in order to save himself an injury, favoring jogging and outdoor sports sessions. He too has in mind the high temperatures expected on Saturday afternoon: “Managing the weather requires very good hydration and managing effort during the match. »

stress and feelings

“At the beginning, when you get on the lawn, there is a lot of stress. Everybody is here ! Then from the first pass, the stress drops. The first minutes condition the rest of your match, confides Sofiane who does not hide her pride in wearing the colors of her country of origin. Then very quickly, the automatisms, the cohesion of the group take over. We no longer hear anything, we are concentrated. »

“Determination and combativeness are extremely important,” assures Oualid, who praises the qualities of the Algerian team. We see ourselves as a big family, carried by supporters who are always on top. “Both agree on an essential point on which they want to insist: beyond the sporting issue, this match will also be an opportunity to give a good image of the city.

Sponsors flock

As in official professional meetings, there is a “wall”. On the pitch, the names of all the sponsors appear on a tarpaulin deployed at the entrance to the lawn and intended to serve as a background in the event of a TV interview or photos. A presence that says a lot about the interest of local companies for the event: well-known brands such as Decathlon, Boulanger, Bureau Vallée, companies in the region, including institutions such as Les Résidences, the departmental council or the city of Mantes-la-Jolie, the organizers had no trouble attracting partners.

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