Senegal fans hail ‘genius’ Cisse after World Cup win


Soccer Football - World Cup - Group H - Poland vs Senegal - Spartak Stadium, ...
Soccer Football - World Cup - Group H - Poland vs Senegal - Spartak Stadium, Moscow, Russia - June 19, 2018 Senegal's M'Baye Niang with Senegal coach Aliou Cisse after he is substituted REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

In Summary

  • Senegal fans in Moscow have attributed Tuesday’s group match 2-1 victory over Poland to the camaraderie head coach Aliou Cisse has cultivated in the team
  • The usually calm tactician, 42, is fast decorating his football hat with its latest feather being a win at the World Cup on his debut

Moscow Chronicles, by Jacob Icia

Senegal fans in Moscow have attributed Tuesday’s group match 2-1 victory over Poland to the camaraderie head coach Aliou Cisse has cultivated in the team.

The usually calm tactician, 42, is fast decorating his football hat with its latest feather being a win at the World Cup on his debut.

The only African coach leading a team in the 21st edition of the biggest football fiesta on the globe, has been hailed as the ‘genius’ behind Senegal’s good start.

“There is something special when a coach who wore a team’s jersey is giving instructions on the touchline. I felt could not help crying when the big screens in the stadium (Spartak Moscow) were showing this man Cisse allover.

“I think it’s time Africans invested in their homegrown coaches, whose interests are beyond the usual targets of others, intertwined in patriotism,” a Senegalese currently studying in Moscow said.

Cisse, clad in a white shirt and a dark blue Nike suit, was a point of reference several times by the commentators of the match, reminiscing his characteristic leadership when he captained the Lions of Teranga in their historic 1-0 win over then Champions France, during the 2002 finals.

Tactically, he took away pressure from Liverpool star Sadio Mane, who kept on falling back into the midfield confusing the Polish defense. This could not escape the eye of a section of Senegal fans.

“I think Sadio Mane was average today, because he was not playing in his usual attacking position all through. The coach must have done this deliberately, and it worked.

“A player of his level needs a coach he respects to concur with such decisions. We all know he likes it when he is playing in front of the goal,” another fan said.

Daily Mail reported the former Birmingham City and Portsmouth defensive midfielder, who took over coaching role for his country in 2015, had told journalists before the match African countries need their own coaches in such competitions.

“Investing in local coaches by African countries will matter most in competitions like these. If players from Africa are playing away in Europe exceptionally, then the trend should be the same with coaching. It’s great to win with a foreign coach but is sweeter to win with a native one,” he offered.

A win against Japan in their next group match will seal Cisse’s side spot in the last 16 before facing Colombia.

Of Japan, Cisse said, “I know it will not be easy, and that’s why it was important to win the first match. It gives us the right attitude towards them (Japan) as we prepare.”

Senegal has an entirely homegrown technical bench, composed of the 2002 class including goalkeeper trainer Tony Sylva who was mercurial in their debut qualification.

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