There is euphoria across Senegal ahead of Friday’s African Cup of Nations final between the Teranga Lions of the West African country and Algeria in the north.
The capital Dakar erupted into collective euphoria last weekend after the Teranga Lions beat Tunisia 1-0 in the semi-final in a very nervy match, rejuvenating support for the team and boosting hope of triumph in the final.
And for the fans, the trophy is finally coming home. The streets of Dakar are painted with the national colors of green, red and yellow are being displayed at homes and all over the streets.
In the streets of Nord Foire in the northern suburb of Dakar, residents beat drums, dance to the tunes and wave flags as they anticipate victory over Algeria.
Young Bintou Fall shares her hopes for the final with The Chronicle. Accompanied by her mother, she waves the Senegalese flag and dances to the tunes. “Our players will beat Algeria 2-0 and bring the trophy home,” she says. “Sadio Mane will score all the two goals. I love the way he plays.”
“I have a great feeling that we will beat Algeria on Friday,” says Sidy Ndiaye, a fan. ‘”The wait is now over. We only need the trophy and I have high hopes in the players,” he adds.
Lisa Ndao, a student was never interested in football. But Senegal’s victory over Benin in the quarter final triggered her new-found love for the competition. “I never knew I could be this excited about football and the national team. I never cared. But guess what! I’ve not only been cheering for the boys now, but I’ve also been investing in flags and the team’s replica shirts, and mobilizing my friends to come out and support our team. One Senegal, one objective; to win the cup,” she says.
Lisa’s friend Kode, 23, the long wait for the top continental football prize is over. “It’s just a matter of time. I’ve waited all my life for this. On Friday we’ll win and we’ll party the whole weekend.”
Ibrahima Dieng is cautiously optimistic. “We shouldn’t be carried away,” he tells The Chronicle in Dakar. “Algeria has always been a tough opponent not only to Senegal but to other top African Nations.”
But Djamel Faye is not ready to let his excitement be dampened by any sort of caution. “Every Senegalese should rally behind the team for this final. It’s an historic moment. We can only be confident of a win, nothing else.”
Tens of thousands of Senegalese fans are expected to gather at the famous Place de l’Obélisque in Dakar’s Central Plaza to watch the final on giant screens.
If the Teranga Lions win, it will be their first AFCON cup triumph.
Omar Jarju is in Dakar for The Chronicle