Africa is already smelling football because the Vuvuzelas and the drum sounds have already been felt in the Egyptian capital Cairo ahead of Friday’s Kick-off of the 2019 Total Africa Cup of Nations.
After 15 tournaments of drought, could this be Senegal’s perfect timing to win the Nations Cup?
Senegal is the only team in Africa to have played at most AFCON tournaments (15) since making their debut appearance in 1965.
Although they’ve played 15 AFCON tournaments, they’ve not won any with their best performance coming in 2002 when they finished runners up after losing 3-2 on penalties to four-time champions Cameroon in Mali.
With lack of silverware, Senegal is still regarded as one of Africa’s best footballing Nations because of their experience at AFCON, playing in the quarter finals of the 2002 FIFA World Cup in South Korea and Japan.
At this very World Cup, Senegal were debutants but defeated 1998 and reigning champions at the time France 1-0 in the opening game of the season.
Senegal had a remarkable tournament because since then it’s only Ghana that has reached the quarter-finals but also lost controversially to Luis Suarez’s Uruguay in the 2010 World Cup held in South Africa.
With the introduction of Video Assistant Referee (VAR), every African most especially Ghanaians wishes it was introduced way back in 2010 because we would have witnessed an African team playing in the World Cup semi-finals for the first time. Because the ball had already crossed the line when Suarez handled it in the area.
Senegal has had a number of great players who shined and hold significant value in World football, the likes of El Hadji Diouf but didn’t help their country attain any trophy triumph during their time.
The Lions of Teranga come into this year’s event as one of the favourites to go home with the trophy. They are the best ranked team on the continent with their 22nd FIFA Ranking.
The star studied squad is led by Liverpool forward Sadio Mane who has had a remarkable season with the Merseyside team, winning the UEFA Champions League and finishing second on table in the English top tier division.
Mane also finished as EPL’s joint top scorer on 22 goals with fellow Africans in Mohammed Salah (Liverpool) and Pierre Emmerik Aubameyang (Arsenal).
One could feel that with the trend of modern football, Mane is the best Senegalese footballer adding up to his performance at club level last season could see Senegal reach the climax.
With the above statistics, could this year’s tournament be the turning point for the Senegalese to at least achievement something?
Although being their main man, Mane won’t be available for selection for Senegal’s opener against Tanzania on June 23rd because he’s suspended after picking up two yellow cards in the qualifiers. The Lions of Teranga are pooled in group C alongside Tanzania, Kenya, and Algeria.