World Cup: Aliou Cisse celebrates Senegal win for 'the whole African continent' after beating Poland

'We are Senegal but I can guarantee the whole of Africa is supporting the Senegal team'

Mark Critchley@mjcritchley
Tuesday 19 June 2018 20:22
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Aliou Cisse captained Senegal at the 2002 World Cup
Aliou Cisse captained Senegal at the 2002 World Cup

Aliou Cissé hailed a win for “the whole African continent” after his Senegal side recorded a surprise World Cup victory over Poland to go joint-top of Group H.

An own goal by Thiago Cionek opened the scoring and Mbaye Niang later profited from a calamitous defensive mix-up in the Polish defence to add a second.

Grzegorz Krychowiak found a consolation with five minutes remaining but it was not enough to turn Poland’s shambolic evening around.

Senegal’s victory, meanwhile, is the first for an African side at this tournament after Egypt, Nigeria, Tunisia and Morocco all suffered defeat in their opening games.

Cisse, who captained Senegal on their fairytale journey through the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South korea, believes it was important for his side to win after other African representatives disappointed.

“Senegal represent the whole African continent,” he said. “We are Senegal but I can guarantee the whole of Africa is supporting the Senegal team. I get calls and lots of people are proud and we are proud to represent the African continent.

“It’s a little bit too early. Winning first match of course means you start at the right pace. The second and third match are also important. I hope Egypt, Nigeria, Tunisia and Morcoco will stand up. There is a lot of quality in the other African teams.”

The win provoked memories of the 2002 campaign when Senegal beat then-World Cup holders France in the opening game of the tournament.

Cissé, who played in that game, said that this most recent victory did not quite compare in terms of cultural significance, but the three points is just as important.

“Not the same thing, not the same taste,” he said when the comparison was drawn. “France and Senegal have a history, France colonised Senegal, so when we faced France as opening match, that was quite exceptional.

“Things are different here but this was just as important as the victory we got against France.”

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