Russia 2018: Africa’s Unlikely Hero

Aliou Cisse, coach of Senegal during the Afcon Quarter Final match between Senegal and Cameroon on the 28 January 2017 at Franceville , Gabon Pic Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix

Written by Elizabeth Daniels & Chigozie Brown

The 2018 FIFA World Cup has run its course and it has been riddled with numerous twists and turns, ranging from the debut of the widely debated VAR (Video Assistant Referee) Technology, to the high number of penalty kicks already awarded.

To crown it all, France came out as champions. Not surprising at least to pundits that tipped the side as one of the favorites to win it in Russia which they did after 20 years.

 Most significant in that team was the record number of Africans that the team had, from Pogba to the sensational Mbappe to Kante and the rest of team, they gave the world a breathtaking finals of six goals.

A lot of arguments are being made for the “migrant” dream and how dreams can be achieved even by African on a world stage with an European team. Without taking anything away from the class and talent of the boys or the history they made, I will take away the politics of the matter because, football prides itself on being separate from politics and introduce you to Africa’s unlikely heroes which has no single French player on their team.

 The most significant twist for the African spectators came at the end of the first set of group stage matches.

It was the most significant development for Africans because on the match that marks the end of the first round of group stage fixtures Africa’s unlikely hero has emerged. visit 1-8oz shop to buy weed online with free shipping

The Senegalese team with huge doses of strength and determination won a well-deserved 3 points from their first game of the tournament against Poland.

The Senegalese team started the match a bit shaky with a few misplaced passes and mistimed tackles but they seemed to eventually get into their stride, winning virtually every aerial challenge they embarked upon and keeping the Poles at bay with the threat of numerous quick breakaways so efficiently that the poles had to wait till a few minutes into the second half to record their first shot on target and even that had to come from a Robert Lewandoski set piece just outside the 18 yard area.

The second half was a fast paced affair with lots of end to end football and pressure from both sides, and it was the higher scoring half with both sides conceding goals as Russia denied the brave Senegalese goalkeeper, KhahimN’diaye, and the rest of the African Continent a clean sheet, but the Lions of Teranga dug in their heels and held on to a very slim one goal lead despite the virtually unrelenting pressure from the poles which yielded their goal during the closing stages of the match.

Although all eyes were on the action on the pitch one can’t help but notice that there was also a huge influence from the sidelines where,AliouCissé, Senegal’s dark skinned coach gyrated with bobbing dreadlocks while urging his team to higher heights.

Clearly, there is a good understanding between the Senegalese coach and his players because on multiple occasions different affectionate gestures could be seen between them, from hugs after the players are substituted off, to words of advice and direction before they came on, or even celebrations when goals were scored, I believe that we can safely say he’s the backbone of the team and this clearly enabled him to be the team’s savior who took them to the World Cup Finals and spurred them on to be the first African team to gain three points in Russia.

Though both Senegalese goals seem to be controversial with the shot from the Everton midfielder, IdrissaGanaGueye, deflected into the net by a helpless ThiagoCionek for the fourth own goal of the 2018 World cup and M’BayeNiang came back on from the sidelines after a brief check up to take advantage of a hazardously underhit back pass from Grzegorz Krychowiak to beat former Arsenal goalkeeper WojciechSzczesny to score what eventually turned out to be the clincher they needed to secure the win over the Biało-czerwoni (The White and Reds) and get Africa’s first win of the tournament.

Although in the second half Poland kept up a continuous pressure with numerous half chances an one absolutely breathless strike from Robert Lewandowski taken from a set-piece he won just outside the penalty area which required incredible acrobatic technique from the Senegalese goalkeeper N’diaye to keep it out and they eventually pulled one back when Krychowiak put the ball into the back of the net via a header from a free kick that was admittedly a long distance from the box, Senegal never held back and kept defending their lead as well as even almost scoring when Sadio Mane won an uncontested header inside the 18 yard box but he eventually couldn’t convert it.

Admittedly the Senegalese got Africa’s first three points and they also gave the remaining teams something to ponder over.

After 3 matches that ended in a win against Poland, a draw with Japan and a loss to Colombia, the team bowed out on a yellow card technicality.

It has come as a huge surprise that of all the African teams who were touted to make waves at the 2018 World Cup Finals in Russia, it was Senegal who stepped up to the plate during the competition.

While the world and Africa celebrates France and their supposed immigrant team and what they did at Russia, let us take a moment and give Senegal all the respect they deserve.

No matter what happens from now on, all of Africa is strongly behind the Lions of Teranga who have turned out to be Africa’s unlikely heroes.

Get More out of our stories: Follow us on our Socials