AFCON AFCON 2023: Cisse gutted after Senegal exit but ‘proud of my boys’

Senegal head coach Aliou Cisse revealed his disappointment after the African lost 5-4 on penalties to Ivory to exit the Africa Cup of Nations at the round of 16 on Tuesday night.

In front of a raucous home crowd at the Stade Charles Konan Banny in Yamoussoukro, the Lions of Teranga made a blistering start and took the lead with only four minutes played. A superb cross from Sadio Mane found Habib Diallo, who calmly chested the ball down before firing a rocket into the top corner.

Stunned by conceding so early, the hosts gradually grew into the game with neat interplay in midfield between Franck Kessie and Jean Michael Seri. The game turned on a pivotal 86th-minute moment. Pepe burst into the box and was clumsily brought down by Edouard Mendy.

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After VAR reviewed the incident, Franck Kessie coolly sent Mendy the wrong way from the spot to equalise and send the home crowd into ecstasy. In the shootout, each side netted their first four penalties but when Kalifa Coulibaly’s effort came off the upright, Kessie stepped up to smash home the winning kick, capping a remarkable turnaround for the hosts.

“Disappointed, disappointed with the result obviously, disappointed especially for my boys. I think we came here to win this match, disappointed for our people who expected a lot from us, but proud of my boys,” Cisse told reporters after the game, adding: “As they say when you win, you are happy. When you lose, you have to maintain your dignity. In defeat, we at least keep our dignity.”

He added: “It’s a bit of a weird match, with a lot of facts from the game. No need to go into that again. My only regret is that after the goal, perhaps we lost the main thread of the match a little. We jumped the lines too much even though we started the match well by controlling possession.

“By finding the intervals that allowed us to attack the last line. Too bad we couldn’t keep that up. It’s football. In 2022, we were happy. Today, we are sad. Sad for my boys, sad for all the Senegalese people. But it’s not football. We will remain worthy of being that.”

On young Lamine Camara being spotted in tears after the game, Cisse said: “It’s very complicated to see these players in this state. Lamine is a young player; he still has a future ahead of him. It’s good to stipulate it, to say that Sadio Mane, in 2017, with the criminal case, he was in this situation. But Lamine is still a nugget that will continue to grow. And when he plays it, I’m sure he’ll win more. It is in defeat that we learn. It is also in defeat that we build ourselves. I think it will build.”

Dennis Mabuka

Dennis Mabuka is a seasoned Kenyan journalist with 18 years of experience covering sports events. He is currently a sport content creator with

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