Much as Senegal is the African team of the year after lifting the coveted AFCON 2021 cup, Aliou Cisse the head coach for Teranga Lions is the man of the moment.
Cisse has a lot of pride at this moment after waiting for 20 years for Senegal to win AFCON.
In 2002, Senegal’s crème de la crème which Cisse and former Liverpool midfielder El-Hadji Diouf were part of lost to Cameroon in the AFCON final.
Cisse never forgave himself after missing a final penalty kick in the shootout against Cameroon. This handed Cameroon their second AFCON victory in the match played in Mali.
Two decades later, Cisse bounced back to lead Teranga Lions to victory this time around as the head coach.
Who is Aliou Cisse?
Aliou Cissé was born on March 24, 1976, in Ziguinchor, Senegal, to parents who fled to France.
At the time, Cissé was just 9 years old. He envisioned himself as a midfielder and a center back for Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) since he was a child.
As a teenager, the Senegalese manager played at Lille before moving to Paris Saint-Germain (PSG).
From 1998 to 2002, he appeared in 43 games for the French club. After that, he played for Birmingham City and Portsmouth in the Premier League.
As captain of the Senegalese national team, he led the squad to the 2002 World Cup semi-finals.
Cissé returned to France’s Ligue 2 in 2006, playing for Sedan FC before playing his final season in 2009 with Ligue 2’s Nîmes.
How Did Aliou Cisse Become A Football Coach?
On leaving the field, Cissé pursued coaching certifications and eventually ascended to the position of assistant to Senegal Olympic team manager Karim Séga Diouf in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Later, he was named Senegal’s youth team manager and led the squad to victory in the Francophonie Games in 2013.
After Teranga Lions were eliminated from the 2015 Cup of African Nations in the group stage, Cissé took over from Frenchman Alain Giress.
The Senegalese fans viewed his selection as their decision because they wanted a Senegalese manager in charge of their squad.
What is Aliou Cisse’s Coaching Style?
Cissé’s style of play and coaching is often compared to that of France manager Didier Deschamps. The Senegalese coach frequently employs the 4-2-3-1 formation, which has been instrumental in Senegal’s recent success.
Cissé has led the team to 40 victories, 14 ties, and eight defeats in 62 matches. Senegal has risen in the FIFA rankings, becoming Africa’s highest-ranked team at No. 20.
The Teranga Lions’ fortunes took a fresh turn under his leadership. Sadio Mane, Edouard Mendy, Idrissa Gueye and Kalido Koulibaly were all able to shine because of Cisse’s ability to build a team that thrived on their individual talents.
In addition to leading the Teranga Lions to the 2018 World Cup, he qualified the squad for the 2017 AFCON in spectacular style by winning all six qualifiers — a first in the country’s football history.
It was unfortunate for Cisse’s team that they were knocked out of the 2018 World Cup at the group stage due to misconduct.
The Africans finished the championship with two more yellow cards than the Blue Samurai, but were tied with them in terms of points and goal differential.
Senegal set its sights on the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations after being let down by Russia in the World Cup.
When they made it to the final of the competition, they fulfilled their reputation as one of the favorites. However, Teranga Lions were trounced for the second time by Algeria.
However, Cisse made the 2021 campaign all about redemption two decades later. He never gave up his dream of making Senegal shine in AFCON.
What Does Senegal Think of Aliou Cisse?
For the players in Senegal, the former midfielder is much more than just a coach. He was beloved by the country’s supporters and widely expected to lead them to their first AFCON victory.
In Yaounde, Mane, a former Southampton player, stepped up to the plate and scored the game-winning goal for Cameroon in the last minutes.
Thousands of people flocked to the city’s Independence Square, near the presidential palace, to mark the momentous occasion.
The square was filled with automobile horns, vuvuzelas, and firecrackers, drowning out the supporters. All around town, the Senegalese flag was fluttering in the breeze.
People gathered around bonfires outside of Dakar and across the country to celebrate the victory of their team.
Following Sunday’s victory, Macky Sall, the Senegalese President declared Monday a public holiday.