Senegal’s Teranga Lions Africa’s dominant force

The Senegalese football federation have been able to create a blueprint across all levels of football and like no other it has worked to devastating effect across the continent creating a reign that is clearly unprecedented. The Football revolution have made them African champions in everything football infact they have completed football.

Champions at the senior level both home based and at international level, then beach soccer and at the junior level,  winning the U17 title to add to the U20 title, their victories are usually efficient from the penalty win in the AFCON,CHAN and Beach soccer finals to the come from behind win against Morocco at the U17 finals. some may argue that penalties are a lottery, hardly In this case they won again against same opponents Egypt to qualify for the senior world cup in Qatar. These results entail a holistic approach towards tournament football and involves the right selection of coaching and playing personal without politics or sentiments a bane of African football. it also requires professionalism usually seen in Europe. The west Africans  conquered the best in Africa, no continent has produced five time serial champions at the same time although from the  major continents in world football South America, Europe, Africa and North America in terms of world titles won at all levels, in South America, Brazil had wins in both their junior regional championship the  U17, U20 and the COPA America in 1988/89 three titles and 2007 they also added the recently introduced beach soccer title the following year winning seven from the next eight editions. In 2007/2008, they won four major titles within a year. Spain achieved something similar within that period winning the U17 titles back to back in 2007 and 2008, U19 titles in 2006 and 2007,beach soccer 2005 and 2007 and then their second European championship in 2008. in between 2007 and 2008 they had 4 major titles, in north America, Mexico also won 4 major titles in 2015 the U17, U20, beach soccer and CONCACAF gold cup,they won both junior titles in 2013 for the U17, have won five in succession(2013,2015,2017,2019 and 2023) while for the U20 have won it thrice from 2011 to 2015. These are not the only of such titles for those countries but a collection of many within a  specific period of time. Senegal’s dominant title haul should be considered for the Guinness book of records, this feat surely will definitely be etched in history for a very longtime.

The Beginning AFCON Triumph 

The Teranga Lions winning their first AFCON title was the foundation for everything great in Senegalese football. When their coach Cisse, a losing finalists as captain in 2002, led them to the finals in 2019 and lost to Algeria a team that also defeated them in the group stage, it was like history repeating itself losing finalists as player and coach, some observers had concluded that it could not get better, but the team were called lions for a reason and they showed a mettle which other lions did not possess in Cameroun a lion’s den, they rewrote history and conquered Africa. After a slow start with a single win and two draws to top a relatively easy group they went into another gear in the knockout rounds beating Cape Verde and Equatorial Guniea, in the semi finals they defeated Burkina Faso and in the finals against African giants the Pharaohs of Egypt they won on penalties after the match ended goalless. The host, the Indomitable lions of Cameroun finished third while the atlas lions of Morroco were knocked out in the quarter finals, incidentally both lions were eliminated by Egypt. months later the Teranga lions  defeated the Egyptians again on penalties to reach the world cup in Qatar and reached a respectable second round stage their second time from three appearances, in their debut world cup appearance in Japan/Korea 2002 they advanced to the quarter finals, both achievements were in Asia in both, South America won the world cup Brazil and Argentina.

2022 African beach soccer  Champions 

Senegal reached the finals and defeated the Egyptians on penalties a repeat of the Afcon finals. They had defeated the north Africans in the group stage as well.They have been able to dominate this tournament winning it a record seven times and four in succession similar to Brazil’s reign.

2023 CHAN Champions 

They repeated the conquest of their international team by also winning this title for the first time, becoming the first from africa to win both titles at the same time.They defeated a north African team in the finals on penalties but it was not Egypt but Algeria an evidence that they possess a winning mentality at all levels, a strong winning ethic, these reoccurences are trends in victory established in planning and detailed preparations.

2023 Double Junior Champions 

The junior teranga baby lions were on a rampage, the U20 victory was their first title, for those that watched them play and also saw the matches of the other contenders in the group stage it was obvious that they had an edge, comfortable in defensive and offensive play, they exuded confidence and a sense of destiny. both the exploits of their senior team mates and the Federation providing leadership, management and tecnical support also galvanised their play. such dynamic organisation gave a glimpse of what made the European teams so successful at the senior world cup, they are not usually the most talented teams but have created a winning culture and have produced the most winners. The Senegalese teams were not the most skilful or talented but as a team they had no equal. most times victories are usually won as a result of efficient  administration and infrastructure, a solid base built on hard work which translates into positive results and silverware. The west Africans had all these ingredients in their game, a recipe filled with success.They defeated seven time winners Nigeria, four rimes winners Egypt and Mozambique in the group stage. Benin in the quarter finals,Tunisia in the semi finals and Gambia by two unreplied goals in the finals winning the tournament without conceding a single goal, scoring a whopping fourteen goals, eight in the group stage.They were champions on a mission. 

U17 Champions an icing on the cake

The master plan had already been tried and tested at all levels with scintillating success, it was a question of, can Senegal complete football? uniquely holding all titles at the same time a remarkable achievement indeed which is obviously better than having a collection won at different period. The best football illustration is Brazil’s reign as senior world champions in 2002 then a year later becoming the first to hold both U17 and U20 titles in the same year. triple super world champions! a record at the highest level, The Teranga lions had the same performance at continental level double junior champions plus an AFCON title which the Brazilians had achieved twice. it was a daunting challenge in Algeria, In contention was the golden eaglets of Nigeria, Mali and Cameroun the trio are two time winners, the most in the tournament while the Senegalese had not won before but inspiration came from AFCON, CHAN, BSAFCON and the U20 titles, a collection of trophies already in their cabinet and a belief in themselves, they florished winning all their group matches, qualifying for the world cup when they defeated south Africa 5-0 to reach the semi-finals. when they faced off and defeated Burkina Faso on penalties in the semi finals after a 1-1 draw, it was the first goal conceded in the tournament a repeat of their semi final encounter in AFCON against same opponent which they won 3-1, a different scoreline but a similar outcome-progress to the finals, in the battle for the title, it was a fitting clash of two of the best teams in the tournament a clash of lions-cubs, Teranga and Atlas the reward, a first title for the winner both had reached the knockout stages in Qatar last year at the senior level, both setting the standard in African football. The west Africans ultimately won, Sawane scoring the crucial goal in the 83rd minute after levelling the encounter from the spot kick scored by Diouf three mintues before the winner, they have been chasing the game since the first half, a headed goal scored by the morrocan captain Boudlal in the 14th minute.Senegal had won on penalties against Burkina Faso in the semi finals a strong indication of penalty shoot out not being a lottery but a process which can be mastered, at the world cup at the senior level the Germans, Argentines and Croats are reknowed specialist and Senegal in Africa are the benchmark for others to follow, apart from the U20 title all their other victories had at least a match won on penalties. In their five victories to claim those titles four of their final opponents were from north African and four of those titles were won for the first time showing a resilience and determination to overcome all odds. Senegal became the second country in Africa to win both the U17 and U20 titles in the same year, Ghana had won the double in 1999.It has been achieved a multiple times across the continents, in southamerica,¬†Brazil(1988,1991,1995,2001 2007,2009,2011 and 2023)with eighth the most from any continent and Argentina(2003)with one, Europe has Spain(1986 winners in U17 and U21)Russia in 1990(U19 and U21) Italy(within 2003 and 2004 winning in the U19 and U21 category and adding the beach soccer title in 2004) and Germany, remarkably had won all three European titles available at junior level (in 2008 won the U19 and a double in U17 and U21 in 2009). North America had Mexico(U20 in1984 and U17 in 1985,U20 in 1990 and U17 in 1991,the following titles were in the same year 2005, 2013 and 2015) while Asia had U17 and U20 winners South Korea in 2002 while North Korea won in 2010 for Senegal most importantly, they are the only country with five titles in all the regional categories, most of the winners were dominant in several categories almost from inception but Senegal was relatively new champions making their feat worth more celebrating, a pride for African football.Their players and teams have much to give in representing the continent at the very demanding world stage which is not impossible, at the senior international level they have proven individuals with great achievements at club level before the start of this great dominance with Mane as the most outstanding, he was runner up to ballon D ‘or winner Benzema in 2021, a milestone only surpassed in Africa by Weah winner in 1995, Eto had finished third in 2009, both Mane and Mendy are champions league winners with their goal keeper winning the European best keeper award,In the 80s Grobbelaar was¬† instrumental to Liverpool’s champions league win, the first African goal keeper to do so. it shows how far Mendy have come, others like their captain Koulibaly and Gueye have consistently delivered for their clubs at the highest level, this experience and exposure has translated them into a formidable team helping the Teranga lions to reach the top and striving to do more, it was this excellence that spiralled to their national teams at all levels.These Players had a humble start yet, has set a golden standard and have given us what we can learn from Sports.

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