Despite the big names that make the history of the national team, Senegal has never managed to lift the continental trophy. Beautiful generations have succeeded in the quest for this coronation so coveted by the Senegalese people. But why have there never been any awards until then?
In Africa, Senegal has executioners and those who have followed the national team for decades will say the same. Often cited among the greatest footballing nations in Africa, Senegal still lacks concrete arguments alongside its African cronies. The Tunisia (15.4%), the Nigeria (25%), the’Algeria (21%), the Morocco (22.2%) and the Ivory Coast (25%) are the countries against which the Lions have the lowest percentage of victory.
If Senegal has never been crowned African champion, it is because it has never been able to surpass all its competitors to put itself above them. Whenever the Lions have come close to lifting the continental trophy, a rival has stood in their way to destroy their title hopes. In 15 participations, Senegal only reached the final twice: 2002 and 2019.
The first African Cup final disputed by Senegal dates back to 2002. On this occasion, the Lions challenged those indomitable with Samuel Eto’o, Rigobert Song or even Patrick Mboma, in Mali. While they had achieved what has rarely happened in their record, that is to say beating Nigeria in the semi-finals, El Hadji Diouf and his teammates had finally lost at the end of the shooting sessions. on goal (2-3) against a reigning African champion Cameroon.
After this disillusion which had nevertheless finished placing Senegal in the pantheon of the great nations of African football. Even without the slightest title. The respect of all was acquired through the honorary courses in CAN and World Cup 2002. The long crossing that will follow this epic is to be attributed to the Maghreb countries with which Senegal has shared its group each time it was released from the group stage except during the edition of 1968 where the Lions shared their group with the two Congos and Ghana but had been eliminated after three matches. Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and even Algeria. Precisely these Fennecs will be the executioners of Senegal during their last final, in 2019.
In 2004, Tunisia on its land, released Senegal in the quarterfinals of the Africa Cup of Nations (1-0). Fortunately, the Lions will take their revenge in 2019, in the semifinals with the same score (1-0). The Carthage Eagles are the rare African champion opponents that the Lions have had to beat in a cleaver match with Nigeria of course. Zambia (1994), Cameroon (1992 and 2017), Tunisia (2004) and Nigeria (2000) are the different countries that have so far held back the dream of reaching a CAN final when the Lions had managed to pass the stage of the group stage.
To hope to lift the continental trophy for the first time in its history, Senegal will have to do without all these nations which continue to outclass it. As often, the Lions have a well-stocked squad two months before the Africa Cup of Nations. But, will this time be the right one for Aliou Cissé and his men? In any case, the Lions coach was clear: « There are five or even six nations including Senegal that can lift this trophy, but I believe that we can win this CAN well ».