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Senegal 2002: Bouba Diop shows up the champions

By Bernard Marcout
Posted on Friday, 18 June 2010 09:00

France’s loss to Mexico on Thursday evening means they will struggle

to exit their group, bringing back memories of 2002 when they were

beaten by Senegal, who went on to reach the quarters. We look back as part of our Saga Africa series.

For the second World Cup ?final in succession, Africa was represented by five teams. South Africa had qualified for the second time in its history alongside Nigeria, Cameroon and Tunisia. The event was held for the first time in Asia, split between two countries, Japan and South Korea, who put on a magical opening ceremony. But it was Senegal’s turn to wow the Cup by reaching the quarter-finals after a fine display. They underlined their arrival into the upper echelons by by ridiculing reigning defending champions France (1-0) in the opening match in Seoul. Senegal were in the capable hands of Frenchman Bruno Metsu, and Bouba Diop’s goal 30 minutes into the match was all that was needed to demoralise France beyond redemption.

“In my game plan, I knew who to position against France’s strongest players and how to counter them,” said Metsu years later.”I knew defender Lizarazu had said, ‘we’ve got to calm the Senegalese from the word go’. So I told Moussa Ndiaye: ‘If Liza succeeds twice in serving up balls to the penalty area, you’re out. That way, the third one won’t be your fault.’ As a result he marched onto the pitch fired up like a madman.”?

The streets of Paris were full of Senegalese supporters chanting his name after the match finished.?

After defeating France, Senegal marched on with a 1-1 draw against Denmark and another (3-3) against Uruguay which got the team through to the knock-out round. Bouba Diop scored twice against Uruguay: “It was a childhood dream come true,» he said. “Four years earlier I had watched the World Cup on television. Now I was playing. Better still, I scored three times – against great teams and great players. It was fabulous. I thank God and my family for having given me the opportunity to experience the World Cup.”?

In the last 16, Senegal came up against Sweden – an even match that went into extra time. That’s when Henri Camara scored his golden goal, and by the time of the 22 June quarter final in Osaka, everyone knew Senegal as the team that could achieve the impossible. But Turkey had tricks up their sleeve, and ?Camara and his team mates suddenly looked tired. Losing 1-0 in extra time, Senegal had nevertheless equalled Cameroon as an African nation to be reckoned with.

This article was first published in The Africa Report’s World Cup 2010 special edition in May.

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