Aliou Cisse has led the Lions Of Teranga, Senegal, to victory in African Cup Of Nations (AFCON 2021) finals.
On February 6, 2022, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) crowned Senegal, led by coach Aliou Cassie as the new African Cup Of Nations (AFCON 2021) Champions.
Senegal triumphed over the Pharaohs of Egypt in an edgy contest in a fixture that lastest for 120 minutes that went to penalty shootouts.
The win is very special for the Senegalese team as it is their first major trophy on the African continent.
The journey of Senegal in the AFCON tournament is worth mentioning as they have qualified for the competition and have failed on each attempt till the tides turned in the 17th time.
The lions of Teranga came close to winning the tournament after qualifying for two finals of the AFCON in 2002 and 2019.
Most would wonder why the AFCON 2021 was a notable victory for Senegal, and the truth would be it was a win for their coach Aliou Cisse.
Since the start of the tournament in January 2022, Senegal remained resilient and goal-driven even when they had suffered setbacks like losing key players due to injury and COVID-19.
The team coach, Aliou Cisse, is an important figure in Senegalese football. The 45-year-old had played for the national side from 1999 till 2005; during this period, he captained Senegal in the 2002 World Cup and led them to the quarter-finals. He also led the team in 2002 to the finals of the AFCON competition.
He retired and took over as the coach of the side and led them to their second finals in the African Cup Of Nations in 2019, their second final in the competition, but they had lost to Algeria with the scoreline of 1-0.
Cisse had been under immense pressure from the football federation and fans; Mane, in an interview with BBC Sports Africa, highlighted this and indicated that they had wanted to win the trophy for their coach.
"I believe this man [Aliou Cisse] deserves everything because he's the most criticized coach I've ever seen in my life, but he never gives up; he trusts himself, he trusts the group. He has critics outside, but right here he is doing his job; most importantly, we would like to win this for him and our country because he deserves it after everything he went through as a player for Senegal and now as the coach; it will be a great reward for everything he has given to his country."
Senegal's goalkeeper Edouard Mendy voiced his confidence in manager Cisse and how he would be instrumental in them defeating Egypt.
"We've been here before, but the manager has what it takes to lead us to success; What makes Senegal special under his guidance, I think, is the team spirit and the team effort.
Although Egypt still has the highest success rate in the African Cup of Nations finals, Senegal managed to turn things around and get the much-deserved win after a shaky start and a penalty miss. AFCON 2021 was a beautiful experience that showed African football's dynamics and evolution.