When Senegal reached the quarter-finals of the 2002 FIFA World Cup in South Korea and Japan, there was an element of surprise but that was two decades ago.
The West African nation has since invested more in grassroots development and this foundation has been showing the fruits especially in the last decade and their current success is not a surprise to anyone at all.
Senegal have reached three consecutive U-20 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals and despite losing on all occasions have played at the resulting World Cups and this is at the heart of the country’s continued youth success.
The Teranga Lions reached the quarterfinals of the AFCON 2017 in Gabon and improved their performance by reaching the final of the next edition in Egypt two years later losing 1-0 to Algeria.
Aliou Cisse’s efforts were rewarded last February when he lifted the country’s first ever AFCON trophy after defeating Egypt 4-2 on penalties following a goalless draw after an end-to-end final.
The former Senegal captain also guided the Teranga Lions to back-to-back World Cups in 2018 in Russia and 2022 in Qatar reaching the Round of 16 at the latter one.
Senegal’s success is not only on the grass fields but also on the sands where they lifted their fourth straight Beach Soccer AFCON title in Mozambique last October.
It is not just the men who are succeeding. Their women counterparts reached the quarterfinals of the 2022 Women’s AFCON in Morocco finishing in the top six and now stand a chance to qualify for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
To prepare for the above qualifiers, Senegal are on the right track after winning the WAFU A Women’s Championship last week unbeaten in Cape Verde.
With all this success on the continent and beyond, Senegal are on the brink of completing a treble in the men’s category if they defeat Algeria in the final of the TotalEnergies African Nations Championship (CHAN) 2022.
Pape Thiaw’s side will be hoping that destiny and fate are on their side at the continental competition organized for players that feature in their domestic leagues.
“We qualified for the final for the sake of our local football. We want to showcase our football. We want our country to be proud of us and we want to return to Senegal with the CHAN title. Our players are young and we should congratulate them,” Thiaw told CAFOnline.
He continued, “A final is a final. This final was expected by many. We will give everything. We represent our country. We know our skills and we will try to continue our way.”
The Local Teranga Lions have shown that they are a team that is hungry for success and will stop at nothing to seek victory against the hosts Algeria on February 4 at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Baraki, Algiers.
Recent success shows that Senegal are a threat and cannot be taken lightly. The CHAN 2022 final will be yet another test and platform for Senegal to prove that they are the ultimate in-form nation and the country to beat on the continent across any competition or age grade.