Senegal Profile

Major Honours Africa Cup of Nations (1)
Year Founded 1960

African Cup of Nations winners Senegal are among the biggest names in African football. A team filled with star power the country is currently experiencing yet another ‘golden generation.’

Senegal played their first match a year after their foundation in 1961, losing 3-2 to Dahomey (Benin).

The Lions of Teranga have qualified for the World Cup finals on three separate occasions. Current manager, Aliou Cisse, is leading the country he captained out of the World Cup group stages 20 years ago to yet another round of 16 bout.

Cisse has made his mark on the national team as a head coach, leading his country to their first Africa Cup of Nations trophy in 2021.

Senegal and their 2021 AFCON success

Senegal fans

At their first AFrica Cup of Nations appearance in 1965, Senegal finished in fourth place in a six-team tournament. In 1968 the tournament increased in size to eight teams, but Senegal crashed out in the groups stages.

Senegal would not appear in AFCON again until 1986, but again they went out in the group stages.

They would make three appearances at AFCON in the 1990s, but fourth was their best performance in 1990.

The next century signified a turning point in Senegal's fortunes and after a quarter-final exit in 2000, Cisse's team really made a name for themselves in 2002, ten years after hosting the tournament.

Senegal managed to reach the final of the tournament but narrowly missed out on lifting the trophy after losing on penalties, with Cisse missing the final spot-kick.

After getting knocked out in the quarter-finals, finishing fourth and then going out in the group stages at the next three AFCONs, Senegal suffered a major dip in form.

They failed to qualify for 2010, went out in the group stages again in 2012, and missed out on the tournament again in 2013.

In 2015, they yet again failed to meet expectations and were eliminated in the group stages and Cisse was given the managerial reins a month after the tournament was over replacing Alain Giresse.

In 2017, Senegal's fortunes improved slightly as the West African side managed to reach the quarter finals of the tournament.

Cisse then narrowly missed out on leading the team to glory after losing 1-0 in the final to Algeria in the 2019 tournament. Senegal were getting closer to that elusive trophy.

In 2021 Senegal managed to leave the tournament triumphant, following heroic displays from star players Kalidou Koulibaly, Ismalia Sarr and Sadio Mane.

They went into the final as underdogs as rivals Egypt had Mohamed Salah, who was in a rich vein of form at the time. Despite this, Senegal won the game 4-2 on penalties.

Upon their arrival back to Senegal, the country's capital, Dakar, hosted the country's biggest ever party.

Senegal at the World Cup

Famara Diedhiou of Senegal scores against Qatar at the World Cup

Just two years after the Senegal international football team were founded, they affiliated themselves with FIFA to allow them to compete on football's grandest stage.

Despite consistently appearing in the AFCON tournaments from 1986, qualification for the World Cup seemed to allude the Lions of Teranga. That is until 2002.

Their first World Cup finals game came against reigning champions, France, in what everyone expected to be a defeat. But Senegal sensationally triumphed, beating France 1-0 in their opening game with defensive midfielder Papa Bouba Diop scoring the only goal and writing his name in the history books in the process.

Senegal then went on to draw games against Denmark and Uruguay, which saw them qualify for the round of 16.

They then defeated Sweden in extra time to reach the quarter-finals, making them only the third ever African team to reach this level. However, they were unlucky to crash out at this stage losing to Turkey through a golden goal scored by Ilhan Mansiz.

Senegal failed to qualify for another World Cup until Russia 2018. But it was short-lived as they narrowly missed out on advancing to the round of 16 as a result of Japan having a better fair play in their group. A cruel exit which the Senegalese gallantly accepted.

To rub even more salt in the wounds of their defeated AFCON Cup final rivals Egypt, Senegal qualified for the 2022 World Cup after beating The Pharaohs on yet another penalty shootout.

The match was full of controversies as the Senegalese fans shined lasers in the eyes of the Egyptian players when they stepped up to take their shots. This resulted in the Senegal football federation receiving a fine of 175,000 Swiss francs.

Senegal qualified for the round of 16 at the 2022 World Cup, after group wins over Qatar and Ecuador, but were knocked out by England 3-0.

Senegal legends

Throughout their history, Senegal have produced some world class players. Such as their joint top appearance holder Henri Camara.

Camara tops this list alongside current stalwart Idrissa Gana Gueye. The pair have both made 99 appearances and Camara is the country's second highest ever goal scorer.

Camara lead the line in the early 2000s, having made his professional debut at the age of 21. His two goals, one of them golden, in the 2002 World Cup against Sweden will be forever remembered as one of the most historic moments in Senegal's history.

The striker retired from international football in 2008, but he didn't retire domestically until 2018.

Another Senegalese legend is midfield powerhouse Idrissa Gana Gueye. He is also the joint top appearance holder for Senegal and has been the anchor in their midfield since his debut in 2011.

Gueye has played all over Europe for teams including Paris Saint-Germain, Everton and Aston Villa. He has been a rock in Senegal's midfield for many years.

Another legend is Sadio Mane, the tricky forward is undoubtedly Senegal's leading star but an injury he sustained playing for Bayern Munich stopped him appearing at the 2022 World Cup.

Senegal forward Sadio Mane

The former Liverpool star is the West African side's all-time top goal scorer and has done countless things to help improve the lives of the Senegalese people. He has funded hospitals, schools and given the children of his village signed Bayern Munich jerseys.

Lastly, current Senegal manager, Aliou Cisse is another legend of the national team.

The defender appeared 35 times for his country but played a vital part in helping Senegal reaching the quarter finals of the World Cup in 2002.

He also captained the country during this run and managed to keep five clean sheets in six games, only conceding one. He also helped the country reach the final of the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations.

As a manager he guided Senegal to victory in the 2022 AFCON tournament, and the final in 2019. He also steered the country to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

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