Senegal stunned the fans across the world with their exploits in the FIFA World Cup 2002. After qualifying for the premier tournament for the first time in their history, the West African country shocked one and all after beating defending champions France in the first match and then went on to qualify for the last 16. What makes their performance even more iconic is because of the fact that it was an era which was dominated by the South American and European. For the Lions of Teranga to come out of nowhere and beat the defending champions and then progress to the knockout stage was a feat that took the world by storm. Let’s take a rewind and relive the famous moments.
After being drawn in Group A with Denmark, France, and Uruguay, Bruno Metsu’s lads were the last bet to weave through. But the African nation began their campaign on the front foot with an astonishing 1-0 win over a lacklustre French side. What began as a feisty affair, witnessed Thierry Henry coming close to opening the scoreline. But midfielder Papa Diop made headlines when he scored the only goal of the match in the 30th minute to give Senegal the lead. France did have a couple of chances here and there but failed to produce the decisive pass which could bring them back into the game. In fact, they almost let their opponents double the lead when Khalilou Fadiga hit the post towards the end of second half.
As France continued to produce a wave of attacks in the last lap of the encounter the entire team defended the lead with aplomb to deny an equalizer. As the referee blew the whistle, the entire country celebrated like no tomorrow. Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade declared a national holiday after the victory.
With an imposing midfield comprising of El Hadji Diouf and current coach Aliou Cisse, Senegal went on to draw their next two group stage games (1-1 against Denmark and a thrilling 3-3 against Uruguay) to qualify for the knockouts.
In the crucial tie against the Swedes, Senegal created history as an extra time goal by Henri Camara propelled them into the quarter-finals. Senegal had become only the second African team to reach the quarters. However, their dream run came to a screeching halt when Turkey won the quarter-final by a margin of 1-0. Once again it was a goal in the extra-time that settled the affair. But this time it was lhan Mansiz.
Come 2018, Senegal are all set to make their second appearance at the grandest stage of them all. Sadly, Bruno Metsu will not be present to witness the occasion as he passed away in 2013. But can they emulate the feat of the legendary 2002 squad is a matter of conjecture? Only time has the best answer.
Senegal Squad World Cup 2002
Goalkeeper- Kalidou Cissokho, Omar Diallo, Tony Sylva
Defender- Habib Beye, Aliou Cissé, Ferdinand Coly, Omar Daf, Lamine Diatta, Pape Malick Diop, Alassane N’Dour
Midfielder- Salif Diao, Papa Bouba Diop, Khalilou Fadiga, Amdy Faye, Makthar N’Diaye, Moussa N’Diaye, Sylvain N’Diaye, Pape Sarr
Forward- Henri Camara, Souleymane Camara, El-Hadji Diouf, Pape Thiaw, Amara Traoré
Senegal World Cup Squad 2018
Goalkeepers: Khadim Ndiaye, Abdoulaye Diallo, Alfred Gomis
Defenders: Kara Mbodji, Kalidou Koulibaly, Moussa Wague, Saliou Ciss, Youssouf Sabaly, Lamine Gassama, Armand Traore, Salif Sane
Midfielders: Pape Alioune Ndiaye, Idrissa Gueye, Cheikhou Kouyate, Cheikh N’Doye
Forwards: Sadio Mane, Diao Balde Keita, Ismaila Sarr, Diafra Sakho, Moussa Konate, Mame Biram Diouf, Mbaye Niang