Uncategorized — June 10, 2008 at 9:16 pm

Senegal The Self-Tamed Lion


Ibrahim Niang is a successful businessman in the New York/New Jersey area of  the USA. As proud as he is to be in America, he is equally as proud of his Senegalese heritage.  Not one  to lose or forget his roots he travels back and forth from his native Senegal whenever  time permits.  Most recently Ibrahim visited Senegal just after his country competed in World Cup 2002.  An ardent football fan and supporter of his national team Ibrahim states that he watched each every game his country played. He indicated that prior to the final games no one expected Senegal to be as successful as they were.  This World Cup was to be a test of their strength at the world’s most prestigious event.  An opportunity to learn and correct mistakes for future endeavors. So when Senegal shocked defending champions France the the entire country went berserk with joy. Even the president of  Senegal stood on the top of a vehicle shouting and waving the national flag like an average supporter.  If  the team could only  maintain their stamina and will to win more history could be made.  However this was not to be the case. In the match where Senegal was eliminated they appeared to have their feet stuck in the ground.  Senegal’s defense seemed to fall apart at the seams,and the fierce attack displayed in previous matches was suspiciously absent. Nearly as quickly as they rose to fame they crashed in what amounted to be one of the strangest World Cups ever. Nonetheless upon their return to Senegal the team was greeted with a heroes welcome. Ibrahim Niang tells us below what he and other Senegalese believe may have been the contributing factors to Senegal’s rapid rise and fall at World Cup 2002.

Q: Where were you raised..
A: I come from a place called Thies in Senegal

Q:What do you attribute to Senegal’s defeat at the World Cup after soundly beating France the defending champions?
A: Let me first state that prior to the finals, no one expected Senegal to accomplish what they had. This was to be a learning experience, an opportunity for Senegal to compete against the best teams in the world, an opportunity to test their strength and to learn from mistakes.  If you are asking why it was that they lost their final match I would have to say that there appeared to be several factors. For one, the team had no energy throughout the match. They just couldn’t move. In addition the coach failed to react. He appeared to act as if he were a mere spectator. Changes could have and should have been made  So the lack of stamina was a factor combined with inaction by the coach were two of the primary factors which attributed to their loss. Following their defeat journalists were making inquiries with the team to substantiate rumors that the team hadn’t rested the night before. For all of the questions asked, there were no denials from ethier the team players or officials.  In an important event such as this the managers and staff should have kept a closer watch on the team to insure that they remained rested but focused. Certainly there was reason to celebrate a victory over the defending champs but certainly not a time to lose focus. This is not to say that the players were not responsible themselves.  However, if a team is losing or the strategy does not appear to be effective the coach must make adjustments during the game particularly if the players appeared to be tired.  We also had our share of bad luck.  One of  most talented players in the world El Hadji Diof  was unable to score what appeared to be a easy goal while positioned in front of the net. Things just did not seem to be working out.  Senegal’s coach chose to maintain the same players as well as the same strategy throughout the match. Although it was obvious that the team’s strategy was not working, no change in strategy  or players were made. The players who sat on the bench throughout the last match were some of the best players in Africa if not the world.  These benched players are of such high caliber that they could have started in a first division team of any league in the world.  Yet in the face of what appeared to be a tired immobile team the coach chose not to utilize fresh talented legs.

Q: To some this may appear to be just an excuse or sour grapes?
A.  What do you mean by an excuse. If you watch the game again you will clearly see what I have stated. The same thing occurred when Senegal played Cameroon in the final match of the Africa Cup. Although their strategy in that game was not producing any positive result, the coach failed to make the necessary adjustment or changes. It’s clear that if something isn’t working after a period of time you must alter your strategy For the sake of the team a coach cannot afford to be rigid in thinking.

Q: What is the current status of coach Bruno Metsu?
A: Coach Metsu’s future status with the national team is very dim. It’s been reported that during the preliminary preparations for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations coach Metsu either requested a vacation or took a leave of absence.   During this period other coaches are scouting and scheduling friendly matches to prepare their teams for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations. This is a very critical period.  Instead of remaining in Senegal  the coach left the country in pursuit of a lucrative coaching contract.  As a result it appears unlikely that he have an opportunity to lead our country during the World Cup 2006 campaign.  Much of the general public have expressed their dissatisfaction with the coach and want to see him officially ousted.

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