African Cup Of Nations PUMA Team Guide #2: Senegal

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The form team with a phenomenal front line, Senegal finally look like they’ll reach their potential at the Africa Cup of Nations

Previous tournament form…

Despite having had plenty of high profile Europe-based players The Taranga Lions have never won the African Cup of Nations. Even as hosts in 1992 they only reached the quarters. The best they’ve managed is an appearance in the final in 2002, the same year they marched to the quarter-finals of the World Cup. At the time it looked a rich future for the West Africans but it proved a false dawn as they were eliminated in the last eight in 2004, the last four in 2006, the group stage in 2008 and unfortuntely didn't qualify for 2010.

How they qualified…

Senegal ripped through qualification topping a group including two-time winners DR Congo and the heavily fancied four-time winners Cameroon. Undefeated on the road to Gabon and Equatorial Guinea they combined red-hot attack with a mean defense racking up 16 goals and only conceding two.

Star players…

Boasting one of the best selection of forwards in world football the trio of Moussa Sow, Demba Ba and his new Newcastle teammate Papiss Cissé will be familiar to many. The three of them are in good form leaving their leagues amongst the top scorers in England, Germany and France. They are all seriously quick with and without the ball while Cissé and Ba carry an added aerial threat.

Watch out for…

Tricky winger Issiar Dia played for France at U21 level but turned his back on Les Bleus to pledged his future to Senegal. The 24 year old has lightening speed and perfectly complements the Lions’ formidable attack. Expect to see Dia on highlight reels throughout the tournament.

The man in charge...

Part of that 2002 World Cup squad, coach Amara Traoré has done wonders rebuilding Senegal since they failed to qualify for the last Cup of Nations. He’s got rid of many of the elements that caused them to underperform in the past, forging a very disciplined and highly motivated team in his two years in charge.

Style of play…

Despite their dazzling forward line, what’s impressive about Senegal is they manage to play balanced football. Speedy and skillful up front and on the wings while rugged in midfield and at the back, they have no obvious weakness.

Most likely to…

Break their duck and win the tournament. The semi-final is the minimum target given their ability in all departments, anything less would be disappointing.

Least likely to…

Fall out with each other. Some of the talented but disruptive stars of 2002 have moved on taking their egos with them. This time a unified Senegal should perform to at least the sum of their parts.
 

Football