Senegal recorded the first African win at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, beating the highly fancied Polish side 2-1 at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow. The remarkable win has evoked great memories of their 2002 World Cup campaign in which they defeated holders France in their opening game. Their current manager, Aliou Cissé, who is the only black coach at this year’s World Cup captained the team 16 years ago.
In an pre-tournament interview with FIFA, Cissé said: “It’s a source of pride to be able to play a part in this World Cup. In 2002 I was captain and now I’m the coach – I love the idea of being able to pass on my experience and knowledge to these players, so that they understand that every fibre of the Senegal jersey represents a person in that country and in Africa. That, as far as I’m concerned, is an extraordinary privilege.”
“We would also love to reach the quarter-finals… We’ve got a young squad with a lot of talent, but they lack experience at the highest level. We’ll have to go there without an insecurity complex, play our natural game and stick to our African identity, which defines our football,” Cissé was quoted saying.
Senegal remarkable win against Poland has cast the spotlight on their coach, Cissé, the only black coach at this year’s World Cup, and one of the youngest coaches at the tournament. Here are 10 interesting things you need to know about The Lions of Teranga (Les Lions de la Teranga) coach.
1. The 42 year-old was born in Ziguinchor, Senegal.
2. He has previously played for English Premier League club Birmingham City and later Portsmouth.
3. Cissé also played in Ligue 1 with Montpellier, PSG and Lille.
4. Cissé played as a defensive midfielder and on occasion, played at centre back.
5. Cissé, captained Senegal on their remarkable journey through the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea. The Lions of Teranga reached the quarter-finals.
Thoroughly enjoying the subtext of this Senegal victory: one of the most xenophobic countries in Europe being defeated by African talent, energy and courage 🇸🇳 Aliou Cissé président ! pic.twitter.com/331vjBnJu4
— Jacques Enaudeau (@jacksometer) June 19, 2018
6. He was also part of the Senegal team who were the runners-up in the 2002 African Cup of Nations. Cissé played for Senegal from 1999 to 2005, winning 35 caps for the Lions of Teranga.
7. Three years after retiring as a player Cissé was employed for a year as Senegal Under-23s’ assistant manager, from 2012 to 2013, becoming head coach from 2013 to 2015.
8. He took over as The Lions of Teranga (Les Lions de la Teranga) head coach in 2015.
9. Cissé became the first person to have been the Captain and Coach of the Lions of Teranga (Senegal).
10. The former Senegalese international is the only black manager at Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup.