ROAD TO KOREA/JAPAN
|Senegal won arguably the most
difficult qualifying group in history of African football. They put teams like Algeria and Egypt behind
them before edging out Morocco on goaldifference to top the group.
here for details
|Best placing: None
|El Hadj Diouf is a quick, brave and mobile
centerforward with an eye for goal. He scored eight goals in the qualification rounds and
might be the hero for Senegal in this World Cup.
VERDICT: First round exit
|Senegal is a team riding a positive wave
at the moment with a charismatic coach, players full of youthful enthusiasm and
a very good African Nations Cup performance behind them, but we believe they
come up short in this company. They are capable of taking points from all these
teams on a good day, even France, but three tough games on the trot in a World Cup? No.
NEWBIES READY TO CHARM THE WORLD
by Peter Goldstein
They're delirious over their Lions in Senegal, and why not? They came from
nowhere to outpoint big names Morocco and Egypt in the qualifiers, then made
it all the way to the final of the Nations Cup in Mali before losing to
Cameroon on penalty kicks. Coach Bruno Metsu has rock-star hair and
dispenses at least six good quotes a day; he's given the players scope to
express themselves on the field, and the result is a team of enthusiasm and
exceptional togetherness. They dedicate their wins to the people of Senegal,
and the people respond by taking to the streets, dancing, sounding horns,
and waving flags. It's not a football team, it's a national holiday.
But they can play a little football, too. Tony Sylva was voted the best
keeper at the Nations Cup, and appears to have the complete package:
reflexes, positioning, pure athleticism, and decisiveness in coming off his
line. He had a few moments of nervousness in Mali, but should be one of the
team's top assets this summer.
The back line in the 4-4-2 has both strengths and weaknesses. Ferdinand
Coly, a late bloomer, has emerged as one of the best right backs in Africa.
He hurls himself around the pitch, dreadlocks flying, and matches his desire
with pace, strong tackling, and effective close marking. On the left is Omar
Daf, not as spectacular, but agile, excellent in positioning, and a precise
tackler. The centerbacks aren't quite of the same quality. Captain Aliou
Cisse reads the game well and is strong in the air, and Lamine Diatta is
powerful, can score from corners, and covers a lot of ground for a big man.
But both can be beaten for pace, and at times they struggle with opponents'
long balls down the middle.
The midfield offers more power than style, and as a result the attack often
relies on the long ball. The one midfielder capable of inspiration is
Khalilou Fadiga: he has a marvelous left foot, and is excellent on free
kicks. But he's not really a playmaker, and can disappear on the left side
at times. On the right is Pape Sarr, aggressive and a solid all-rounder.
Makhtar Ndiaye, with good ball skills and a knack of getting into the
penalty area, might see some time as well; Moussa Ndiaye (no relation), more
powerful and less precise, is another possibility here.
The two defensive-oriented midfielders are excellent. Alassane Salif Diao is
a leader on the field and a first-class ball-winner, an active big man with
surprisingly quick feet. He gets forward more than you'd expect. Youngster
Bouba Pape Diop doesn't have quite the pedigree yet, but is similar in
style, and when the two are on the field together they can really shut down
the opposition playmakers. (Metsu calls them "The Extraterrestrial" and "The
Mastodon," which gives you an idea what to expect when you interview the
The undisputed star of the show is up front: Ousseynou El Hadj Diouf of
Lens, at 21 the newest sensation of African football. He's small, amazingly
quick, superb on the ball, and capable of remarkable flights of fancy. He's
excellent with back to goal, where out of nowhere he'll turn and dribble, or
send a through ball, or fire off an unexpected shot. He can be a bit
hotheaded, and occasionally will go overboard trying to draw a foul. But
he's a marvel, and looks set to become one of the all-time African greats.
He's partnered by Henri Camara, very fast and an exciting dribbler, but an
inconsistent finisher. Camara usually plays out on the right side, giving El
Hadj Diouf plenty of room to do his thing. If Camara struggles, new face
Pape Thiaw might get some minutes as well. Souleymane Camara (no relation),
only 19, is the joker; fast and direct, he'll see action as a substitute.
The Senegalese are experienced professionals, and many of them are regulars
in the French leagues. At the same time, they don't have the talent of
Cameroon, and it's unreasonable to expect them to go far in the tournament.
But they'll be a welcome guest, and should add some life to what might
otherwise be a drab group A, which besides France has only Denmark and
Uruguay to offer. Don't bet on them; just sit back and listen to Metsu charm
the media, and watch his men play with their special brand of team spirit.
And if you like what you see, root for a little magic to send the fans into
the streets once more.
A BRIEF WORLD CUP HISTORY
Senegal has never participated in the World Cup before.
Info on how
the World Cup was founded and about the trophy as well.
on every match in every tournament.
Interesting columns about the past, present and future of the World Cup.
with appearances in the World Cup. Detailed info on every country.
of many of the most influential players in history.
An A-Z collection
of strange and different stories in World Cup history.
A big collection
of various statistics and records.
since it was introduced in 1966.
knowledge about the WC. Three different levels. No prizes, just for fun.
lots of stuff. For instance Best Goals, Best Players and Best Matches.
of links to other soccer sites with World Cup connection.
and buttons for you to link to us if you want.
A little information
on who keeps this site available.