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Djaniny Tavares opens up about his country and World Cup qualifying

12 de Noviembre del 2016 10:52 am.

This Saturday, Djaniny Tavares and Cape Verde will face Burkina Faso in the National Stadium of Praia as Cape Verde looks to rise in Group D in Africa's World Cup qualifiers. Cape Verde sits in last place behind Burkina Faso, Senegal, and first place South Africa. A win would put them in third place as the tiny country looks to make the trip to Russia in 2018 for its first World Cup.

The club spoke at length to "Djaniny" during the week about what returning to his country is like and what this qualification means to him.

How do you take this new call to the Cape Verde National Team?

I am happy to go again to help my country after a complicated injury, thank God I'm recovering well. I’m there to help them win, that is the most important.

How complicated is the trip to your country?

The journey is long, it takes between 16 and 18 hours to get there.

- Djaniny's travel itinerary to Praia has scheduled stops in Mexico City, Madrid and Lisbon.

What are the African qualifiers like?

It is very different. Most of my team plays in Europe and when we go there (to Africa) we try to give our best to do things well (football wise) for our country. It is not easy to play against other teams in Africa because they have very good players who play with great team in Europe. When we play at home we do everything we can not to lose so we can bring joy to our people.

What are your chances of qualifying for the World Cup?

It is not easy, but it depends on us. What we have to do is win the games that we have. We have to beat Burkina Faso, we know it will not be easy but in our house we have to do it.

How to you feel to return to your home in Praia?

I am proud (to play) in front of my people. To help my country play well and to represent the whole continent. I think what we have to do is continue working to give our best on the field.

How is the support for Cape Verde at the National Stadium in Praia?

It is very strong like here (in Torreon) with Santos. Fans always support us when things do not go right, but also when we are winning. Win or lose they are always with us. And we have to do the same to make them happy.

Are you excited about reaching the World Cup?

We were close in the last qualifiers. We didn’t get there it but we are again fighting to go. It is the dream of any player and we have to work hard to be there.

What does it mean for you to play with your team?

It represents my life. It’s my country, where I was born, where I grew up, where I was given the opportunity to be where I am today. Here and there I always give the best.

What has allowed you to leave your country and play in different areas of the world?

First I grew a lot as a person, I left very young. I went to another country to study alone, to fight, to do everything I could. I feel very fortunate to be so close with my family, it has helped me a lot.

- Djaniny moved to Portugal, which became independent of Cape Verde in 1975,  from his country at the age of 17 to study Engineering in Renewable Resources.

What has been your most complicated moment?

Two months after arriving in Portugal I called my father, and I told him that I didn’t want to be alone, and that I wanted to return home. He always motivated me, he told me that I had to fight and that to be a man I had to suffer. He told me that I should endure the first six months, and then decide if I really wanted to come home. It was then that I started playing on a team where I was seen as a family, and that helped me a lo. From there I didn’t feel alone anymore, and I was able to start studying and work more.

What was your opinion when you decided to play in Mexico?

At first I was worried about the distance, moving to and playing in a country in which there are practically no Cape Verdeans. Sometimes I feel a little lonely but that's soccer, I have to get used to it. I always tell (my family) that I'm okay and with that, they don’t worry about me so much.

What was your first impression when you arrived in Torreón?

When I spoke to Pedro (Caixinha) I didn’t know anything about Mexico, I didn’t follow much Mexican soccer. I did not know that there were many quality players and when I arrived I realized that there are very good people here, they help you to adapt to their customs. Personally I feel very good here.

What do you think of your experience with Santos?

I like being here. It’s a big team that gives you a lot of opportunity. They help a lot and that’s why I am happy to be here

Finally, what is your next objective with Santos?

To return to be champion. That is the most important. To do that, we have to forget what has happened this tournament and work more and more to obtain another title.