Lions proud of record-breaker Wague
25 Jun 2018
- Wague became Africa's youngest World Cup goalscorer
- Initially, the right-back did not know about the record
- "I couldn’t have dreamed of anything better”
By Cynthia Nzetia with Senegal
If you are old enough, you are good enough, and if there is one player at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ who proves that adage true, then it is Senegal’s Moussa Wague. On Sunday the right-back became the youngest African goalscorer in world finals history, at the age of only 19 years and 263 days.
“You’re the first person to tell me. I didn’t know. Are you sure about that?” an incredulous Wague told FIFA. “It feels amazing to be the youngest African to score at the World Cup.” The young cub in the Senegal squad, Wague takes his place in the record books at the expense of Ghana’s Haminu Draman, who was 20 years and 82 days old when he found the back of the net against USA at Germany 2006.
His goal aside, Wague showed against Japan why he is so highly rated. In the view of team-mate Cheikhou Kouyate, the young full-back looked every inch a seasoned professional, giving everything he had, punching holes down the right flank, preventing Japanese forwards Takashi Inui and Yuya Osako from linking up more effectively, and even passing on instructions from coach Aliou Cisse to his team-mates.
“The coach has put his faith in me, so I can’t let him down,” said Wague, who plays for Belgian club KAS Eupen. “I had a bad back injury at the start of the season and he rang me a lot to find out how I was doing.”
Having replaced the experienced Lamine Gassama in the Senegal starting line-up, the young defender knows how to take the initiative, as he showed against the Japanese, arriving in the box at just the right time to fire home from Youssouf Sabaly’s cross with 71 minutes on the clock. “I couldn’t even describe my goal to you,” he said. “I got on the ball, I saw the goal, I hit it, and I scored. It still feels crazy. My first goal at the World Cup – I couldn’t have dreamed of anything better.”
Though Wague, who hails from the town of Bignona, had a day to remember, his team have cause for regret. “We led twice, and twice Japan equalised. We gave away possession and lost our rhythm, which led to us losing concentration too. We sat too deep too often, which was fatal.”
Wague and the Lions of Teranga are determined to take their chance against Colombia, who turned Group H on its head with their 3-0 win over Poland. One point ahead of Los Cafeteros, the Senegalese need only a draw against them to make the last 16, while the Japanese take on the already-eliminated Poles in their final game.
“It’s going to be a final,” said a visibly-motivated Wague. “Every team is in control of its own destiny. Colombia are a strong side but we’ll be doing all we can to win.”