For coach Aliou Cissé, AFCON 2019 was a fulfilling experience but deep down something was missing; a feeling that keeps coming to the mind.
Senegal returned from the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations with mixed feelings. They were very close to making history, by winning the continental title for the first time, but lost the final against Algeria.
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However, finishing second out of 24 participating teams was comforting for many fans, who trooped out in thousands to welcome the Teranga Lions upon their arrival from Egypt last month.
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“I wasn’t expecting that huge crowd at the airport in Dakar and along the streets. I was happy for the players for bringing joy to our people, but at the same time there was that feeling of ‘I wish the trophy was here’. It was difficult to deal with. It keeps coming to the mind,” Cissé told www.aclsports.com on Monday.
Expectations from fans were low ahead of the 2019 AFCON following the team’s poor showing at the 2018 FIFA World Cup where they failed to progress from the group stage. Few locals expected Senegal to reach the final, according to Cissé.
“The fans knew we had a good team but not many believed we would return with silver. Our progress in the tournament kept whetting appetite until it reached a point when everybody was calling for gold,” he said.
“It was an extra pressure but we enjoyed it and it motivated us. It also led to shedding of tears when we lost the final to Algeria because we were feeling the disappointment back home. After 2002’s near miss many were hoping that the god of soccer would be on our side in Cairo but it happened as it did.
“I don’t know when or how, but I am sure Senegal will succeed someday.”