‘With motivation even a lizard can carry a Rock’
The 2002 FIFA WORLD CUP will always have a special memory for true football fans worldwide,this was a shift of power sort of tournament,where the smaller teams upstaged the known powerhouses.
It was also the first world cup to be co hosted by two nations Japan and Korea,and also the first time to be held in Asia.
Prior to the World Cup there was talk about the big names such as England,Argentina,Italy,Brazil and France to do well,little mention was given to the smaller teams participating.
One team in particular was Senegal known as the lions of teranga,making their world cup debut at the grandest stage of them all.
Not much chance was given to this small African team who many pundits had written off as a one round participants,pooled in a group that included defending champions France,Uruguay,and Denmark,it was hard for the neutral observer to see Senegal to record even a single point let alone pass the first round.
The Senegal Team was a collection of unorganized talent that required Guidance,and they did get that Guidance in their Charismatic coach Bruno Metsu,this french born coach was appointed by the Senegal Football Association in 2000.
THE PROCESS OF BUILDING THE LIONS
From 2000 to 2002 Bruno Metsu Started a rebuilding process of the lions,he centered the squad around his Charismatic forward El Hadji Diouf,he also allowed Senegal to play a more free form style of football.During this period Bruno was not only a coach to his players,but he was a guide, a mentor,and most importantly he was like a bigger brother to all the players,the players were very comfortable around him.
He had build a family type of atmosphere in the team camp and this is one ingredient that helped in the success of the lions of teranga.
This was a Joyous period for the lions of teranga,as they secured a berth to their first world cup and they finished runners up in the African cup of Nations.
THE WORLD CUP
Senegal would be playing the opening match of the world cup against defending champions France who were red hot favorites to get a comfortable victory.
Before the opening match some french players had dismissed the Senegal team as walkovers,even football great Pele suggested that Senegal was the weakest team in the group.
In a passionate speech to his team before the opening match of the tournament, Metsu used the disparaging comments to stir his players. Metsu’s psychological approach to the game led him to encourage Senegal’s players to focus on France’s weaknesses rather than their strengths; he used videos to show the Senegalese players all the weaknesses of the French players.
After 29 minutes of play France’s David Trazguet hit the bar,giving the feeling a goal was in the horizon the goal did come however on the opposite end.A pacy run on the left flank by El hadji diouf found Papa Buoba Diop who latched on to the cross after a fumble from France’s keeper Fabian Barthez,Senegal had scored to write football folklore history it was an amazing moment for a team that was playing its first ever world cup match.
Senegal held their own in the match and looked as if they were the defending champions in the match and after 94 minutes of play Senegal had come on top pulling of the shock of the world cup. “When I read them Pelé‘s remarks that Senegal was the weakest team of the group, I immediately noticed a revolt in their eyes. I knew they were going to fight like lions,” Metsu told the Nigerian newspaper later that year.
After Senegal’s victory over France the then Senegal president Abdolaye Wade declared a Public holiday in Senegal.
The Stage was set for the lions of Teranga now to do well in their remaining matches,after drawing 1-1 against Denmark.
Senegal faced a dangerous Uruguay team after racing to a 3-0 first half lead in suwon Senegal looked set to go through,but a fierce second half fight back in the second half by Uruguay saw Senegal cling through to the second round,with a 3-3 draw.
THE LAST 16
Senegal were trying to emulate the feat achieved by the indomitable lions of Cameroon in 1990,they faced a very tough Sweden side that include henrik larrson,Fredie ljungberg,and the young Zlatan Ibrahimovich.
Sweden did take the initiative and were the first to score through Henrik Larrson in the 11th minute,however that strike was cancelled out by henri camara’s equalizer in the 37th minute.
The Game pulled through on till the extra time with both teams having minimum chances,to score.
Until the 103rd Minute when Henri Camara picked up a brilliant back-heel from Thiaw and burst into the Swedish box. He didn’t connect cleanly, but it was accurate and his shot bounced past a wrong-footed Hedman and nestled into the left side of the net.
Senegal were through to the quarterfinals of the world cup,bruno metsu continued to lead the fairy tale run of Senegal.
Turkey were Senegal’s opponents in this crucial tie,both teams were appearing in the quarterfinals for the first time.
After a mediocre 90 minutes the game went to extra time,in the fourth minute of extra time the Senegal dream was over,after a brilliant strike from illhan Manzis knocked the lions of teranga out.
However this was a performance that had exceeded the expectations of everyone,and Bruno Metsu and the lions of Teranga wrote themselves into history books forever.
DEATH & LEGACY
Bruno Metsu left the position of coach of Senegal in 2002,but he did instill a culture that helped grow the team,he instilled self belief,courage and relentless in the team,the ability of metsu to connect with his players and inspire them is what led them to the success of 2002.
THE YEAR 2002 WAS THE YEAR OF BRUNO METSU AND HIS LIONS OF TERANGA
On 14th October 2013,Bruno Metsu passed away in France from Colon Cancer,as per his wishes he was buried in Senegal and given an Islamic funeral.
Bruno Metsu’s legacy will live forever in the memories of those who watched the lions of terenga conquer the world.
A LION NEVER DIES IT ONLY SLEEPS