Senegal: The Rising Powerhouse in African Football

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Senegal: The Rising Powerhouse in African Football

When it comes to football in Africa, few nations command as much respect as Senegal. The Lions of Teranga have emerged as a dominant force in the sport, positioning themselves as potential history-makers by becoming the first African nation to clinch the coveted World Cup title.

While Senegal fell short of this achievement in the 2022 tournament, exiting in the first knockout round against England, all eyes are now fixed on the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations in 2023.  As the competition draws nearer, Senegal will be among the leading contenders with great odds at Africa-Bet online betting sites for them to win the tournament, but how have they become one of the rising powerhouses in the sport on the continent? Let’s explore how they have cemented their position and earned this well-deserved recognition.

Early History

Following Senegal’s independence from France in 1960, the nation joined FIFA, marking a significant milestone for football enthusiasts. The national team made its debut in December 1961, but their inaugural match ended in defeat against Benin. In 1962, the national organizing body applied for FIFA membership, and the following year, Senegal became a member of the Confederation of African Football.

Their entry into the Africa Cup of Nations showcased their early potential, with Senegal securing a respectable fourth-place finish. However, their progress faltered, and for the majority of the subsequent tournaments until 1986, they struggled to qualify, dampening the initial promise.

The team made a comeback in 1990, earning another fourth-place finish in the tournament. In 1992, Senegal hosted the event but fell short in the quarterfinals. It was in 2002 that Senegal achieved their greatest feat, reaching their first-ever final, only to be defeated in the championship match.

Modern Success Stories

The early 2000s would create some of the nation’s most famous moments on the football field. After finishing second in the Africa Cup of Nations in 2002, the nation made history at the World Cup in South Korea and Japan. Senegal made it through to the quarterfinals, becoming only the second African side after Cameroon in 1990 to achieve that feat. Their standout performance came in the group stage, as they landed a shock win over reigning world champions France. Senegal would later beat Sweden in the round of 16, before falling to Turkey.

However, their performances at the tournament in Asia put the nation on the map, and a number of stars were signed by European clubs after their run to the latter stages. Once again, Senegal wasn’t able to build on this promise, as they finished third in their group at the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations, before falling to make the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. They then crashed out at the group stage of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations without picking up a single point.

Re-emergence Of Top Talent

After a near-miss in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, Senegal began to look back to their very best in 2017, as they reached the quarterfinals of the Africa Cup of Nations. The performances continued to improve, as the nation reached the 2018 World Cup, before narrowly missing out on a place in the next round at the expense of Japan, who boasted a superior fair play record. Aliou Cisse was appointed as the manager in 2019 and led Senegal to the final of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations where they were eventually beaten 1-0 by Algeria.

Senegal’s big moment would then come in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, which was pushed back to 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Against all odds, Senegal progressed through the tournament with ease, eventually landing success following a dramatic penalty shootout success against Egypt. Former Liverpool superstar

Sadio Mane netted the winning spot kick, which led to one of the biggest parties that Senegal has ever seen. Mane once again scored in a rematch against Egypt to reach the 2022 World Cup, but the striker would miss the tournament through injury. Senegal finished second in their group after wins against Ecuador and Qatar, before they were easily beaten by England in the round of 16.

A Big Year Ahead

Next year promises to be a massive one for Senegal, as they will look to successfully defend the Africa Cup of Nations title that they won in 2021. They will be among the leading contenders to win the tournament in the Ivory Coast after achieving qualification with four wins from five matches. Senegal will need to be at their very best to win a second major honor, which will get underway on January 13, 2024.