MAMADOU DOUDOU DIOUF LOOKS AHEAD TO ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL YEAR AT COSMOS COPA
Last year, NYC Senegal were one of the surprise teams of Cosmos Copa. They entered the tournament through the qualifying round and made it all the way to the final, losing to Poland 3-1. The team was led by the young attacker Mamadou Doudou Diouf. Mamadou's goalscoring exploits in Cosmos Copa led him to being named to the 2011 tournament's All-Star Team. Mamadou followed up his success at Cosmos Copa with an explosive season at UCONN. He started all 25 of UCONN's matches, scoring 13 goals and bagging 2 assists. His performances earned him a spot on the BIG EAST All-Tournament Team.
We caught up with Mamadou Diouf to talk about his successful season at UCONN and his thoughts on NYC Senegal and Cosmos Copa:
Cosmos Copa: How would you rate your 2011 season at UCONN?
Mamadou Diouf: It was not a bad season but also not a great season because even though we won lot of tough home and away games we didn't end up the season with a title. To be ranked number one in the country for the most part of the season is huge but college soccer is business and with the players we have here, we have to win a title every year and we didn't so it was not a successful season.
CC: You scored a lot of goals. Did you expect to have that much success in your sophomore year?
MD: You know, my job is to help my team to win every game. My teammates and coaches deserve all of the credit. My teammates find me no matter what it takes and know how I play because of the work we do in practice every day and my coaches push us at practice and show us the way. I know what it take's to get it done and I put the work on that. I need to keep working hard and give more every day to get better and to do a better job this coming season.
CC: A couple of players that you played with at UCONN have done well so far in MLS. How was it playing with Andrew Jean-Baptiste and Tony Cascio?
MD: I am happy for them because they deserve it. Tony was my partner at top and he has the skill and he is athletic and strong with the ball so I am not surprised to see him where he is right now because he was humble and a team player. Baptiste is a big defender with skill and he knows the game well. I am sure they will be even better in their second season and I am happy for them.
CC: Are there any other players on the UCONN roster that could also make that leap to MLS?
MD: Yes! 4 or 5 but they decided to stay and try to win something because we know we will have a better team this coming year if we work hard and help the young guys even though we lost two very good players.
CC: Is that your ultimate goal? To play in MLS?
MD: You know, since I was young, my only dream was to be a pro soccer player. I like MLS and want to play there a couple years to get more experience at a high level but I wish to play one day in Europe.
CC: What's it like to play under Ray Reid? What is the culture at UCONN soccer?
MD: Coach Reid is a tough, tough guy, he pushes us every day because he is a winner and want to help us. Off the field he is one of the best people I have met in my life because he will help you to grow up mentally and psychologically. The culture at Uconn Soccer is to be the best every time and people love soccer here. We have exceptional fans and parents always come watch games. If you play for UCONN, you need to be a winner because winning is a culture here and you live with that everyday. If we tie a game it's like a loss here .
CC: What was your experience playing in Cosmos Copa?
MD: Honestly, it was a great experience. I was so excited and it was not easy because you play with a team that you don't know and each team has their style and the games get harder and harder and you guys did a great job with the organization so it was a nice experience.
CC: How did Cosmos Copa prepare you for your season at UCONN?
MD: It did help a lot because as a soccer player you need to be competitive all the time and I remember that after last year's tournament, I had 10 days of rest before my pre-season and during pre season I was ready to go physically. It was a good thing.
CC: Were you guys surprised by how well Senegal did last year at Cosmos Copa?
MD: Yes! I know people were surprised because they didn't expect us there and it was our first time and they didn't know us. Although there were a lot a good teams in this tourney, we knew that they were not better than us and we had no pressure, we were playing to have fun and try to do something special and we were close at the end. We have been playing together for a long time so we know each others well.
CC: Are you planning on playing in Cosmos Copa this year?
MD: Yes! I will be ready to go when the tournament starts because we have an unfinished business and we need to get it done!
CC: How do you think Senegal will do in this summer's Copa?
MD: NYC Senegal respect all the teams in this tournament because they made it for a reason and it is not an easy tournament, all teams will be ready but we are coming to WIN IT! because we lost in the final last year, we want to do better and we have only one way to do better and that is to win the tourney and we will be ready to not make the same mistakes we did last year.
CC: What improvements is Senegal looking to make for this year's tourney?
MD: Our coaches Leo and Sylla know what we need to do to win this tourney. I am a simple player and my job is to do what they tell me to do but I know that mentally, physically and psychologically we will be ready because we have more experience. The leaders, Thioune, Oumar, Diop, Malick, Mame Samb... will be back and we will have new talented players too. So we are excited and looking forward for this year's tourney and I promise to people that we will make it fun, Thanks.