Senegal coach Aliou Cisse has said that African teams would eventually be as successful as the European and South American heavyweights.
The closest African teams made was the quarter-finals – Cameroon in 1990, Cisse’s Senegal in 2002, and Ghana in 2010.
Speaking ahead of The Teranga Lion’s opener against Poland, Cisse declares:
“I am certain that one day an African team, an African country, will win the World Cup.”
He adds: “It’s a bit more complicated in our countries. We face realities that are not there in other continents.
“But Africa is full of quality and we’re on the way,” he posits. “We fully trust our football, we have no complexes.
“You see lots of African players in European clubs, now we need African coaches for our continent to go ahead.”
Brazilian great Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Pele, predicted in as far back as 1977 that an African team would win the tournament by 2000 but returns have been disappointing, with only three last-eight appearances by African teams in the history of the glamorous competition.
Senegal are one of five African teams at the tournament in Russia but they are the only one coached by an African.
NEW ARTICLE | Young, Gifted and Black
— PitchingItBlack (@PitchingItBlack) June 14, 2018
Infact, at 42, Cisse is the youngest coach at this World Cup.
In 2002, Aliou Cisse led Senegal to a stunning run at the world cup including victory over France in the opening game.
This year, he has arrived in Russia with them for their return to the world cup after that amazing run.
— Michael Oti Adjei (@OtiAdjei) June 13, 2018
Senegal is playing in only their second World Cup. Their first was in 2002. Coincidentally, coach Cisse was skipper of the team then.
A very inspiring story 2002 Aliou Cisse captained Senegal Teranga Lions to the FIFA World Cup quarter final in their first ever appearance.16 years later he has arrived in Russia as the head coach of Senegal having ensured they qualified for the biggest sporting event.Respect pic.twitter.com/PnpZO95YOg
— Collins Okinyo (@bedjosessien) June 13, 2018
Lauds Mane as ‘one of the best in the world’
Talking to the press, Cisse described Liverpool’s Sadio Mane as a ‘unique’ talent.
“I don’t want to say he could become one of the best players in the world – he is already one of the best, you have to stress this,” Cisse states.
“He plays for an iconic club in Liverpool, which is one of the best clubs in Europe. He has shown he is top-notch with his club and he has something unique.
“He's unpredictable, at any point he can make the difference with a dribble and pass…"
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) June 18, 2018
“He’s unpredictable, at any point he can make the difference with a dribble and pass, so for me he is already one of the best players.
“Sadio is a unique player and he can’t be compared to any other Senegal players, even if we’ve had some major ones in the past.
“He’s unique and despite everything that has occurred to him in the last two or three years, he hasn’t changed. He’s just as humble as the first time I met him, six years ago at the Olympics.
“His mentality hasn’t changed, his behaviour to staff and his humility to [his] teammates is the same, so he is a player who can bring a lot to the team,” the tactician points out.
Cisse has put together a Senegalese team with physical presence in the shape of Mame Biram Diouf, Kalidou Koulibaly and Cheikhou Kouyate. And technical prowess with the likes of Idrissa Gueye and Keita Balde, as well as decent strength down the flanks.
They begin their World Cup campaign on Tuesday when they face Poland, helmed by Robert Lewandowski in Moscow’s Spartak Stadium.
Africa still awaits a first victory at the ongoing mundial as Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria and Tunisia have all failed to win.
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