An estimated 10,000 Senegalese fans have stormed the streets of Dakar to celebrate their team’s extra time win over Tunisia in the semi finals of the African Cup of Nations in Cairo Sunday.
The win has taken Senegal, the highest-ranked African nation a step further to clinching their first ever African Cup of Nations title.
Shortly after their victory, fans painted the city with the national colours of red, yellow and green, with smoke bombs and flags as they marched through in a beautiful chaos. They sang songs and danced to the tunes. “I’m so excited today,” said Lamine Gueye a fan. “Having got to this stage, we have hope. But we know the hardest is yet to come.”
Senegal are making a first final appearance in the African Cup of Nations in 17 years. They came closest in 2006 when they crashed out in the semis and Oumar Bitteye believed the time has now come for the Teranga Lions to win the coveted African trophy. “We hope this year will be the right one. We’re just a step away. I hope and pray that we win.”
Senegal have been waiting 54 years for an African title. They played in 14 tournaments since 1965, more than any other team. They will play Algeria who beat Nigeria in the day’s other semi final fixture in the final on 19th July in Cairo. That game was officiated by Gambian referee Papa Gassama.
“We are now the favorites to win the trophy,” said Babacarr Niane. “I am hopeful that we will win Algeria in the finals by two goals to nil.”
Senegal have plenty of top players in their ranks and that made light work of qualification to AFCON, securing more points than any other team on their way to Egypt. “We have players who can do it for us and let them know that we are always behind them,” Serigne Mbaye, another fan told The Chronicle. “I urge them to keep on fighting so that the trophy can come home.”
Former national captain Alioune Cisse has been in charge of the team since 2015. Ever since he was appointed, the Teranga Lions have seen an upturn in fortunes.
Meanwhile, Senegal’s game against Tunisia has been a game of missed big chances, two missed penalties, and great goalkeeping saves, forcing it to extra time when Tunisia handed an own goal to Senegal to progress to the final.
Omar Jarju is in Dakar for The Chronicle.