Football: Why Senegal looks unbeatable in Africa


The Senegal national under-20 football team upon arrival at Youf Airport on March 13, 2023, after winning the U-20 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.

In one year, Senegalese football dominated all organized men’s competitions in Africa. It started with the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN), at the start of 2022, the first tournament to be won by selection A. Then the beach soccer team, in October in Mozambique, won its seventh CAN (fourth in a row), before that. Offers local selection Senegal The first ever African Nations Championship (CHAN), a competition dedicated to African players who play in their country. Finally, on March 10 in Cairo, the Teranga Lions defeated Gambia in the final (2-0) of the U-20 Africa Cup of Nations, winning for the first time in this competition.

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This domination of Senegalese football on the continental scene must be analyzed on two levels. The A selection results are the result of a successful mix of dual nationals and Senegal-born players who have pursued careers in Europe. But as far as the CHAN team and the under-20s are concerned, this is a result of the coaching work done in Senegalese academies or clubs. Moreover, four players (Lamine Camara, Pape Amadou Diallo, Djibril Diarra and Libasi Ngoum) were selected for the two tournaments, thus winning two continental victories in less than two months.

“Coaching has been a priority for Senegalese football for years,” Exposing Maddy Torey. In 2000, this former professional footballer founded Génération Foot, a partner academy of FC Metz. It is in it that Sadio Mane began his training before joining France to start his career there. In Senegal, Generation Foot, Dakar Sacré-Coeur [partenaire de l’Olympique lyonnais] And Diambars are three academies that offer a lot of international players. Clubs have also chosen, with less means, to put effort into training.” Adds Maddy Toure.

“Young people are placed very early in the best conditions in terms of education, accommodation and, of course, training”

Thanks to its correspondents in all provinces of the country, academies and clubs quickly spot players with potential. “In the case of academies, young footballers are placed very early in the best conditions in terms of education, accommodation, medical care, nutrition and of course training and competition,” Defines the founder of Génération Foot. The senior teams of these academies participate in the Senegalese professional leagues (League 1 and 2), so that young players who are still in training face high-level speed.

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A promising new generation

Senegal has a real breeding ground. The academies understood this more than twenty years ago, and many clubs that used to tend to focus only on the professional team and therefore immediate results, are now more interested in coaching, even if their means are weak, especially because they are not partners in European clubs. Stepping in is Youssef Dabo, former under-20 coach and now coach of ASC Jaraaf de Dakar, the most successful club in the country. This, in addition to other residents of Ligue 1 (Pikine, Gorée, Guédiawaye…), thus have many foreigners under the age of 20 in their workforce.

The emergence of this new generation of players, some of whom already play in Europe – such as Samba Diallo at Dynamo Kiev (Ukraine) or Pape Diop at Zulte-Waregem (Belgium) – is promising. “It’s not a guarantee because you can’t read the future, but there is reason to be optimistic. We must not only remain vigilant and not calm down, we must continue our efforts, improve what needs to be improved, such as the training infrastructure, and allow the Senegalese professionals who play in the country to live a decent life.” away from their profession. Ferdinand Kohli, who reached the quarter-finals of the 2002 World Cup with the Teranga Lions, analyzes.

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It is clear that his former teammate Aliou Cisse, who was coach of the A team for eight years, is following this generation closely. “Mane, Koulibaly, Gueye and the others are 30 and over, they are never and you have to think about the next step. In a few months, and maybe even before the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations in Côte d’Ivoire, we can expect sacred players under the age of 20 to be called up. A,” Youssef Dabo assumes.

Senegal’s results and reputation for coaching have earned it exemplary status in Africa. “I receive calls from several countries where our model can be imitated,” Made Toure confirms. The harvest of titles can also continue during the next African Cup of Nations under 17, which will be held from April 29 to May 19 in Algeria. Obviously, the Cubs would be among the favourites.


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