Coach Aliou Cisse of the Senegalese national football team said his charges will not be fazed by being one of the pre-tournament favourites when the Africa Cup of Nations kicks off in Cameroon next month.
By Ibrahima Dione
He was speaking to journalists on Friday as he unveiled 27 players whose main ambition at the tournament is to win the continental trophy for the first time in their country's football history.
The kick-off of the African Cup of Nations (AfCON) is barely 16 days away and Cisse and his Senegal squad are making frantic preparations to go one better after failing at the last hurdle against Algeria who are also one of the favourites for Cameroon 2021.
Using history as motivation, Cisse said Senegal will go to Cameroon “with a lot of humility, confidence and ambition”.
The Lions coach faced the press to unveil his squad without any surprise addition or omission.
Only Krepin Diatta, who suffered a serious injury while playing for his club Monaco is conspicuously absent.
In charge of the national team since 2015, Aliou Cisse will be in his third consecutive AfCON tournament with the firm belief that his team has improved over time and could improve on their last tournament status as runners-up.
“We know what the people expect from us. We want to make them proud. We do not want to disappoint. This generation aims to be the one that brings AfCON to Senegal,” the former captain of the 2002 Teranga Lions squad added.
In recent weeks, there has been doubt about the holding of the continental tournament from January 9 to February 6 because of pressure from the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) and European clubs on the grounds that the host country is not sufficiently prepared to fight Covid-19 especially with the emergence of the Omicron variant.
Coach Cisse also opined that the inflexibility of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and the determination of Cameroon on the issue of a possible postponement of AfCON show that “Africa has a voice that resonates,”.
He said “it must continue to be respected by remaining united.”
The former Senegalese midfielder, in order not to give credence to the critics of the AfCON, maintained that a pressurised Africa, must absolutely win the challenge of organizing the tournament.
For the 33rd edition of the AfCON, Senegal is in Group B and will face Zimbabwe on January 10, Guinea on January 14 and Malawi on January 18.
The following is Senegal's list of players for the tournament.
Goalkeepers (3): Edouard Mendy (Chelsea FC, England), Alfred Gomis (Rennes, France) and Seyni Dieng (Queens Park Rangers, England).
Defenders (8): Ibrahima Mbaye (Bologna, Italy), Abdou Diallo (Paris Saint-Germain, France), Pape Abou Cissé (Olympiakos, Greece), Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli, Italy), Fodé Ballo Touré (AC Milan, Italy), Saliou Ciss (AS Nancy, France), Bouna Sarr (Bayern Munich, Germany) and Abdoulaye Seck (Royal Antwerp, Belgium)
Midfielders (8): Moustapha Name (Paris FC, France), Cheikhou Kouyaté (Crystal Palace, England), Idrissa Gana Gueye (Paris Saint-Germain, France), Mamadou Loum Ndiaye (Deportivo Alavés, Spain), Nampalys Mendy (Leicester City, England), Pape Matar Sarr (FC Metz, France), Pape Gueye (Olympique de Marseille, France) and Joseph Lopy (FC Sochaux, France).
Attackers (8): Bamba Dieng (Olympique de Marseille, France), Keita Diao Balde (Cagliari, Italy), Ismaila Sarr (Watford, England), Famara Diedhiou (Alanyaspor, Turkey), Boulaye Dia (Villareal, Spain), Habib Diallo (Strasbourg, France), Sadio Mane (Liverpool, England) and Mame Baba Thiam (Kayserispor, Turkey).