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THE LIONS OF TERANGA

Team Senegal World Cup 2002
The players in the photo are back row from left to right:-
Papa Malick Diop, Khalilou Fadiga, Papa Bouba Diop, Ferdinand Coly, Lamine Diatta, and Tony Sylva.
Front row left to right:-
Salif Diao, El Hadji Diouf, Omar Daf, Henri Camara, and Aliou Cisse.

If there is any talk about African warriors, its only fair that we include our sports men and women who have done the African continent proud during major global tournaments. The Lions of Teranga, or Senegal to those outside Africa, are one such example. These boys did us proud during the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup and finally proved to the world that African players can rub shoulders with the finest in the world. They started off with a blockbuster game against cup holders France, beating the defending champs 1-0 in the opening game of the tournament. They followed this with a draw against Denmark and Uruguay to qualify to the second round. Just getting to the second round was already a big achievement by the Africans, who were not even favoured to advance past the preliminaries.

The Lions of Teranga continued with their odds-defying performance in the second round and beat Sweden 2-1 courtesy of a golden goal by Henri Camara in extra time. Their impressive run finally came to an end when they lost 0-1 to Turkey in their quarter-final match. A quater-final, berth in any world cup event is a very respectable showing and the Teranga Lions bowed out of the tournament with their heads held up high, and a proud African continent waiting for their return home. The Senegalese side coached by Frenchman Bruno Metsu, featured the following players:- Tony Sylva(goalkeeper--very impressive), Omar Daf(jersey#2), Papa Sarr(#3), Papa Malick Diop(#4--very impressive), Alassane Ndour(#5), Aliou Cisse(#6), Henri Camara(#7--very impressive), Amara Traore(#8), Souleymane Camara(#9), Khalilou Fadiga(#10--The Matchmaker and definitely my Man of the Tournament), El Hadji Diouf(#11--A pleasure to watch and very impressive), Amdy Faye(#12), Lamine Diatta(#13), Moussa Ndiaye(#14), Salif Diao(#15), Omar Diallo(#16-goalkeeper), Ferdinand Coly(#17--very impressive), Pape Thiaw(#18), Papa Bouba Diop(#19--strong midfielder and backbone of the team--my other favourite beside Fadiga), Sylvain Ndiaye(#20), Habib Beye(#21), Kalilou Cissokho(#22-goalkeeper), and Makthar Ndiaye(#23).

Their performance equals that of the other African lions, The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon during the 1990 Italy World Cup. The Cameroonians, led by their legendary striker Roger Milla, started off by upsetting then defending champions Argentina(and Diego Maradona) 1-0. They then went on to beat Romania 2-1(both goals courtesy of Roger Milla), before surprisingly losing 0-4 to lowly Russia. In the second round, Milla again came up big scoring both goals in the Lions' 2-1 win over the fancied Colombian side, and sending the Africans to the quater-finals--the first ever by an African team. The Lions put up a strong showing against England, but lost 2-3 in a highly controversial quarter-final match. Milla was yet again big in this game, and in fact was the mastermind of the 2 Cameroonian goals. Many people still believe Cameroon was robbed that match, and that they were good enough to go all the way and give Africa its first taste of the coveted trophy.

The performance by the Senegalese will probably overshadow that of the Cameroonians because unlike the Cameroonians who were already Africa's soccer giants coming into the 1990 World Cup, Senegal was a surprise qualifier to the 2002 World Cup. In addition to this, they have never been to a World Cup before, unlike Cameroon who featured in the 1982 Spain World Cup. But all in all, Africa will forever be grateful to both the Lions of Teranga and the Indomitable Lions for not only being great ambassadors for the continent, but also for finally forcing the world to focus on the positive aspects of continent.

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