The Lions got the job done two days from the deadline.
It has become a habit to see Senegal win their ticket for a competition or a qualifying round before the end. The Lions of Téranga have become experts in the field since the appointment of Aliou Cissé at their head in March 2015. Latest example: leader of group H (12 points) after four victories in as many outings, the Senegalese selection is already Qualification for the final round of the route for the World Cup in 2022. The rest of the two trips to be made. Morocco imitated the Senegalese performance in short the debates in Group I, this Tuesday, October 12.
If Sadio Mané’s teammates win their play-offs (round trip), scheduled for March 2022, against an opponent to be determined, they will take part in their second World Cup in a row, after that of 2018. The third in their history with the 2002 edition.
Aliou Cissé takes advantage of his golden generation
For the African Cup of Nations (CAN), the qualifications of the Lions are earlier in the morning. They manage each time two days before the end of the race. As for the 2017 edition.
Installed in Senegal the day after the elimination of the bench in the team’s first round at CAN 2015 in Equatorial Guinea, Aliou Cissé immediately capitalized on the immense potential of a vengeful group. The former captain of the Lions of the 2002 generation managed to qualify Senegal at the end of the fourth day of qualifying.
Housed in Group K along with Burundi (2nd, 7 pts), Namibia (3rd, 6 pts) and Niger (4th, 4 pts), Senegal finished in the lead with 18 points. The first clear round in qualifying in Lions history. The relatively low opposition in this group certainly explains such a margin. But, a spirit of conquest was beginning to be born in the Den and the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign in Russia was proof of that.
A 2nd World Cup qualification in the annals
After getting rid of Madagascar in the second round (5-2 over all two matches), Senegal falls into a relevant pool D. There were Burkina Faso (2nd, 9 pts), Cape Verde (3rd, 6 pts) and South Africa (4th, 4 pts). The Lions will qualify before the 6th day, at the end of an incredible scenario. The match of the second day was, in fact, replayed in November 2017 (0-2 for Senegal in Polokwane). The CAS invalidated the result (2-1 for South Africa) on November 12, 2016 for “manipulation of the match” with the infamous Ghanaian referee, Joseph Lamptey. Sadio Mané and his teammates will finish, undefeated, in first place with 14 points.
To access CAN 2019, Senegal inherits a group A with Madagascar (2nd, 10 pts), Equatorial Guinea (3rd, 6 pts) and Sudan (4th, 3 pts). It was the first CAN in history with 24 teams. The first two from each pool are qualified. A new health walk for the Lions, which qualifies on the fourth day. It’s impressive 0-1 in Sudan on a but from Sidy Sarr at the end of the match.
To win the 17th qualification for a CAN finals (2021 edition), Senegal flies over Group I by qualifying at the end of the fourth day and a 0-1 victory in Guinea-Bissau, thanks to a but signed Sadio Mané. Even if the campaign is tarnished by two draws including a home against Eswatini, it is a new express qualification to be put to the credit of the Lions.
Qualifying master still virgin
First African country in the FIFA rankings for three years, Senegal has established itself as a great nation of continental football alongside Egypt, Cameroon, Ghana and Algeria. But, unlike these nations, he is running behind his first continental title in the A. Despite brilliant qualifying campaigns in recent years, the Lions are still mocked by the rest of the continent for their still virgin record of major titles.
Beaten twice in the CAN final, in 2002 by Cameroon, and more in 2019 by Algeria (1-0), Senegal is still struggling to excel in the final phase. While it is irresistible in the qualifying phase, and despite two World Cups and seizing CAN including two finals, the Senegalese team still has everything to prove.
Moustapha M. SADIO