Senegal had to negotiate the toughest qualifying draw in their history to finally reach their first FIFA World Cup™ finals. The Lions of Teranga successfully navigated a group that included Morocco, Egypt and Algeria to book their place at 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan. They have struggled under the weight of expectation since then, however, and lost out on finals berths to Togo in 2006 and Algeria in 2010.
FIFA World Cup finals history
Senegal’s FIFA World Cup debut was certainly worth the wait, as they turned out to be one of the revelations of Korea/Japan 2002. Bruno Metsu’s men started their campaign with a shock 1-0 victory over reigning champions France, before drawing 1-1 with Denmark and 3-3 with Uruguay to secure a place in the second round. The Lions of Teranga caused another major upset by beating Sweden 2-1 in the Round of 16, before eventually falling to an Ilhan Manziz golden goal in their quarter-final against Turkey.
The current crop
After a series of internal disputes, Senegal found some much-needed stability in 2009 when they appointed Amara Traore as coach. Traore’s arrival coincided with improved performances on the pitch, no doubt aided by a core of players with extensive top-flight European experience. With a strong forward line, solid defence and a renewed team spirit that has been missing since 2002, Senegal are finally starting to strike fear into their opponents once again, but missing out on the 2013 CAF Africa Cup of Nations demonstrates Senegal still has a lot of work to do.
The key players
The Lions have a formidable strike force, with Demba Ba and Moussa Sow posing a constant threat to opposition defences, and they are ably supported by striker Papiss Cisse. At the back, Kader Mangane and Souleymane Diawara form one of the strongest central-defensive partnerships in African football.
Coach: Alain Giresse
Best performance in a FIFA competition: FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan 2002 (Quarter-finals)
Former stars: Jules Bocande, Khalilou Fadiga, El Hadji Diouf