Mauritania coach Corentin Martins unsure over future

Corentin Martins
Corentin Martins has taken Mauritania to a new level

Mauritania coach Corentin Martins is unsure if he will stay on despite leading the team to their best finish in a qualifying competition.

A 1-1 draw away with South Africa in Nelspruit on Friday night ensured that Mauritania finished runners-up to Cameroon in their group for the 2017 African Nations Cup finals.

They missed out on a place at the tournament in Gabon but Martins said their group, which also included South Africa and The Gambia, was "one of death".

The former France international, whose team had a slim mathematical chance of grabbing a Nations Cup finals berth if they had won the match, said they had always set out their stall to finish second in the group standings.

"For a country that does not have a lot of experience in international football, we have gone forward and progressed a lot," the ex-Auxerre midfielder said.

"Over the last two years, we have had the opportunity to take on some of the big powers in African football and learnt a lot from the experience. It has been rare for Mauritania to have that kind of chance to play the big teams.

"Doing well against them has given us the necessary confidence. We only lost by a single goal twice to Cameroon, we were narrowly beaten by Tunisia in the World Cup qualifiers and we took four points off South Africa. I think we can continue getting good results."

Mauritania have long been regarded as one of the continent's lightweights but after Friday's draw they are set to climb into the top 100 of the Fifa world rankings for the first time in 20 years.

"We've really been working hard to increase the potential of this team and I think we've progressed very quickly," Martins said.

But the 47-year-old, who started his job with Mauritania in October two years ago, says he does not know whether he will be offered a contract extension when his deal runs out in December.

"I was very happy in the job, people were very good to me and I had good relations with the administrators. Of course, it's not easy to be a national team coach - you suffer a lot on the bench," he joked. "But I don't know what will happen now."

Mauritania lost only two of their six Group M games and finished on eight points.

In previous qualifiers they have usually finished bottom of the table, and they have never qualified for the Nations Cup or the World Cup.