Cisse: We will challenge for Africa Nations Cup (AFCON)

By By Sammy Kitula, in Cairo: Monday, June 24th 2019 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Football
Senegal coach Aliou Cisse (centre). [File]

He is a man of few words. Senegal’s national football team coach Aliou Cisse is a stickler. His attention to detail comes close to none.

When pacing up and down the touchline as his dreadlocks swirl under his uncalculated steps, shows a man full of optimism and hope.

Even as he fielded questions ahead of their opening match against Tanzania last night, Cisse is a man full of intelligence.

“Our recent results show that we are making progress. But statistics don’t lead to victories,” he replied when asked about Teranga Lions’ prospects at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Cairo.

This mannerism dates back to his days as Senegal captain. It was he, who led his country to the 2002 World Cup quarter-finals in South Korea and Japan and shocked holders France in their opening group match.

His team’s talent is first class. He has the likes of Liverpool and Champions League winner Sadio Mane, Cheikhou Kouyate (Crystal Palace) and one of the most sought-after talents in European football, defender Kalidou Koulibaly.

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Cisse’s determination has been his trademark all along. His is the personification of a true lion.

To most members of his playing unit, he is the epitome of a good father; he will joke when it’s time to and be unyielding when things go south.

“I believe in discipline. With discipline, we will go far. To get to the semifinal will be normal to us. Each outing (Afcon) brings with itself some learning. We must always have that in mind, even in this Africa Cup of Nations,” said the former midfield dynamo, who has reggae legend Bob Nesta Marley as his role model.

When looking at the mercurial tactician, he really yearns for Afcon glory. Truly, he does. His eyes tell it all. His hunger for more eminence is apparent. It’s so palpable, you can feel it.

He has achieved what most would only dream of; self glory. He has partially ticked that off his to-do list but he is yet to convince his compatriots that he is the man meant for the job.

“At times, he seems detached from the ongoings and ends up picking the wrong players,” noted Salim Camara, one of the Senegalese journalists covering the Afcon. 

But Camara is quick to note that Cisse, who took over as the national team’s head coach in 2015, deserves the utmost respect for what he has done for his country in his playing years.

If only he could turn back the clock to that memorable 2002 World Cup feat, if only.

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