Senegal – Bunded Out
The first changes to the Senegalese set-up after the glory days on Asian soil came when coach Bruno Metsu announced that he was leaving after the World Cup. Lured by Middle Eastern oil money he headed for the United Arab Emirates where he hoped to emulate the achievements of his Senegalese team.
It was immediately clear that stardom had gone to the heads of many of the Senegalese players. At the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations in Tunisia, one renowned player was often spotted leaving nightclubs in the early hours of the morning and it came as no surprise when Senegal were bundled out of the tournament in the quarter-finals by the host team in a bad-tempered match that would have ended with several players being sent off but for the lenient handling of the game by the referee.
The total collapse in discipline both on and off the pitch was apparent for all to see. The once in-demand Senegalese team players now found their club form falling and several of the much-vaunted players signed by English clubs were beginning to look ordinary. Within a couple of seasons and many millions of pounds later, several English clubs wrote off their investments in disappointment.
The qualifying round for the 2006 FIFA World Cup” began with Senegal clear favourites to qualify in a group including Mali, Togo, Zambia and Congo. As the race hotted up it became apparent that the Senegalese stars had waned as they struggled to get to the top of the group and in the end were undone by a very average Togolese side that relied very heavily on the goalscoring prowess of Emmanuel Adebayor, who scored a hatful of goals in the qualifying round.
Senegal’s failure to qualify for the World Cup in Germany was deemed catastrophic by the local press and it was no surprise when coach Guy Stephan’s contract was immediately terminated as a result.
The team fared no better at the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt and were eliminated by the host team in the semi¬finals.