Kenya/Uganda: Mane Leads Senegalese Charge Against Uganda

From left: Segenal's and Benin's national soccer teams at the 2019 AFCON in Cairo.

Cairo — Among Africa's top football nations only Senegal has failed to win a continental title. They have come close once, in 2002 when they lost to Cameroon on penalties in the final. Their other notable performances were semi-final appearances in 1965, 1990 and 2006.

That question of why they have never won the African championship rankles them deeply.

When Kenya coach Sebastien Migne had the temerity to say the Teranga Lions possible did not have the mental strength to go all the way in Africa, Senegal coach Aliou Cisse hit back immediately - like a raw nerve had been touched - telling the Frenchman to concentrate on his own team.

And when the same question was asked again at the Senegal versus Uganda round of 16 pre-match press conference here in Cairo Thursday, there was a moment of pause in the room and then agitated murmurs from the large Senegalese media contingent.

Not winning the Afcon crown is a jinx that haunts every Senegalese. None of their great sides, from the 2002 World Cup squad that had Cisse in the team together with the likes of El Hadji Diouf, Henri Camara and Papa Bouba Diop, and the 1980s side that had the great Jules Bocandé and Rodger Mendy.

When Senegal were knocked out in the quarter-final stage on penalties in the 2017 Nations Cup by eventual winners Cameroon, their star player Sadio Mane shed tears.

A World Cup participation later and now ranked Africa's top nations, they started the tournament as one of the favourites, but have yet to show the level that take them all the way to July 19.

They face a Ugandan side that will be free from any inhibitions after securing their tourney target of a top 16 showing. Uganda coach Sebastien Desabre is in fact relishing a run against Senegal.

Unrest over unpaid dues

"We are not afraid of any opponent. Senegal have played in the World Cup and it is our chance to play a good team. We will give 100 per cent. All teams have strengths and weaknesses. We know the play we will use against Senegal," said a relaxed Desabre.

Uganda will be buoyed by their 2-0 win over fancied DR Congo in their opening match and can rely on their much talked about backline marshalled by Simba's Murushi Juuko, should he have recovered from a hamstring injury, and Hassan Wasswa.

Uganda were dealing with a player unrest over unpaid dues two days ago, Friday night they will have to deal with a dangerous Senegalese front line of Mane, and Rennes duo of Ismaila Sarr and Mbaye Niang.

The two sides drew 0-0 in their last meeting, a friendly match on June 5, 2017 in Senegal. There is more at stake Friday and a winner, obviously, must be found.

More From: Nation

Don't Miss

AllAfrica publishes around 900 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.