Salif, you played twice for Senegal recently and won both games. Will you take some momentum from this going into the forthcoming Schalke games?
Definitely. I came back to Gelsenkirchen feeling good. We won our final African Cup of Nations qualification game against Madagascar 2-0 and then beat Mali 2-1 in a friendly – after going 1-0 down too.
Do you already have one eye on the African Cup of Nations in the summer?
No, I am fully focused on Schalke. There are still a few months to go until the African Cup of Nations. It’s important to start winning games again with my club. None of us are happy with our position in the table.
You will return to your former club on Sunday for the first time. Will it be a special game for you?
I’m looking forward to seeing plenty of familiar faces. I had a very nice time at Hannover, however I now play for Schalke, which means my aim is to win against my former side.
My young daughter gives me a lot of strength, and encourages me after a defeat.
Do you still speak to your former teammates?
I am in contact with a lot of the lads still. We won’t speak directly before the game though.
Both clubs have only won one of their games in 2019. Do you feel a certain amount of pressure due to the table?
This situation is obviously not great for us, but we just have to accept it. I believe in our abilities and I am convinced that we can get ourselves out of this situation together.
After recent difficult times, how have you been regaining confidence?
My family is very important to me. My young daughter gives me a lot of strength, and encourages me after a defeat. Music also plays an important role in my life. It helps me free my mind.
Have you spoken to Huub Stevens already?
Because of the internationals, I have hardly had any time to train under him. However, we have used our time together well. The coach has told me how he sees my role in the team, his expectations of me and what I need to do on the pitch. We have had some good chats.