have been the cinderella story of the past three years and probably the
best African team 2001.
In a thrilling World Cup
qualifier group that saw performances of three teams as good as any team
in the other groups (with maybe the exception of Cameroon) Senegal came
out on top as lucky winners on goal difference.
But now it is 2002
and the first well known symptoms of self destruction have appeared in
the fairytale idyll.
First hero coach Bruno
Metsu came underfire after only one dull warm up match. Will the Senegalese
remain patient if they fail at Mali?
Then a row over bonusses
and a boycot threat by the players had to be dissolved.
In Senegal expectations
threat to go out of proportions after the World Cup qualification. A semi-final
at Mali is the goal but the way for the Senegalese is more than tough:
luck will be a huge factor, drawn into a group of death with two more teams
who can be considered on a similar level, Egypt and Tunisia, and another
giant luring in the quarter finals, possibly title holders Cameroon.
From the style of play
Senegal are a role model: their blend of strength, skills, organisation,
and commitment has been formed in France where almost all players of the
squad are regular starters with their clubs. The most famous trio comes
from leaders Racing Lens, among them star striker El Hadj Diouf.
But adjustment to the
game will be necessary, arriving from the cold of Western Europe, having
to adapt to the West African heat quickly.
It has to be hoped
their way will solidly develop further. In Africa changes come quickly
but this team is promising.