MOSCOW, Russia, June 20 – Following the first African victory at the 2018 World Cup, Senegal coach Aliou Cisse said his troops had worked hard for their 2-1 win over Poland in Moscow on Tuesday.
“We earned our victory, we worked very hard for it,” he said after the win, which puts Senegal at the top of Group H, ahead of Japan on goal difference.
Before Poland and Senegal kicked off at the Spartak Stadium, every single African team that played in the World Cup had lost their respective matches.
Tunisia conceded a late goal to lose against England, Morocco conceded a stoppage-time own goal against Iran, Egypt conceded a last-gasp header against Uruguay. And in the late match on Tuesday, Egypt would go on to lose 3-1 against Russia to all but confirm their exit from the tournament.
Cisse said Senegal would bring the same focus to their next match against Japan at the Ekaterinburg Arena on Sunday.
“Let’s not underestimate Senegal. We knew this Poland team very well,” he said.
“We knew their systems… we knew exactly how this team was going to move and that Lewandowski was their main threat, and we implemented the right system to play them.”
Cisse said the whole of Africa was closely monitoring the progress of Senegal.
“Senegal today represents the whole of the African continent,” he said.
“Of course we represent our country but I can also guarantee that the whole of Africa is supporting us. I’m getting phone calls from everywhere.”
One would have to stop short of calling this an upset because Senegal, arguably, are the best Africa have to offer (especially with the circus surrounding Egyptian Mohammad Salah and his fitness). Senegal was fast, physical and in Cisse, they had a coach who understands African football and what the World Cup means to Senegal more than anyone else.
Indeed, with Cisse as the captain, Senegal had scripted history in 2002, defeating holders France 1-0 in the opening game of their only other World Cup appearance – which would also turn out to be the best ever for an African nation.
And with Cisse back at the touchline as the coach, with all his animated reactions, Senegal managed to blow Group H wide open.
If Poland and Columbia were thought to be the favorites in the group, that notion is definitely being challenged by the best Africa has to offer.
– African News Agency (ANA)