Home News How “mad” Senegal was to stun France at the World Cup will be lamented for the ages

How “mad” Senegal was to stun France at the World Cup will be lamented for the ages

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hIt must be said that Aubris, by the French delegation, carries bearers to Pangram, including some soldiers. No team has ever won the World Cup three times, not even Pele’s Brazil or Beckenbauer’s West Germany. France this.

maintained by France. France, which has long been looking for an attacking position, can count on the best scorers in the English, French and Italian championships: Thierry Henry, Djibril Cisse and David Trezeguet. At Euro 2000 – France loved it and showed it – they can live with that label, and even thrive, as evidenced by Tresquet’s golden goal in the final, when Italy edged them out for long periods.

France has learned to conquer. But these conquerors were tired. Patrick Vieira played 61 matches before landing in South Korea. The results of physical tests conducted in early May at the Performance Altitude Center in Dignes in the French Alps were devastating. As Yuri Georgiev said: “We are charred. »

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“A lot of players raised heads after winning the World Cup in 1998,” Emmanuel Petit later told me. Patrons were everywhere and wanted their money’s worth. We should have focused on our work, but no. There was always a party to attend, a handshake or a photo session. We were surrounded by people who kept telling us we were the best and we couldn’t lose. I’ve lost my little mind myself. It was chaos.

How confused we were when, after the event, journalists associated with the group broke their silence and told us what happened at the Blues’ five-star base in Seoul, at the Sheraton Grand Hill Walker Hotel & Towers in Korea.

Nothing is better or more expensive for the Blues and their staff. Six tons of material were sent, including the “material” of 20 chests of Château la Lignane and Domaine de l’Sevin, two Côtes-du-Rhône packets of the drug served at the group’s meal, sufficient but not identical . FFF President Claude Simoni ordered a £4,000 bottle of Romanée-Conti during a sumptuous dinner at a Sheraton restaurant. And representatives of the sponsors of the group, which gathered about forty people.

Thierry Henry from France.
The role and status of Thierry Henry was one of many issues France faced ahead of the tournament. Photo: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

Some of the cast—mostly hairdressers, a term used for those whose first eleven are not expected to appear—couldn’t resist the temptations of the Sheraton nightclub Sirocco and its all-female dance troupe; They can hide and retreat to their rooms via a “secret elevator” that can be accessed from one of the karaoke booths.

Growing anxiety in the locker room led to increased focus and indiscipline. Senior players questioned their coach’s tactical choices. Roger Lemerre opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation that Patrick Vieira and substitute captain Marcel Desailly considered insufficient in the absence of Zinedine Zidane – who will be replaced by Yuri Georgiev in the role of playmaker – and Robert Worse, who was Sylvain Wildart. Not quite a compelling alternative. Le Maire did not move.

A week before the match, Senegalese coach Bruno Metsu confronted the Senegalese press, who announced that his team would adopt a 4-1-4-1 against France, with Aliou Cisse in front of the defender (“Voulez-vous la France to win or what?”), reacting Lemar said: “I know how they will play for a month, but I’m not used to building my team on the basis of the opponent. »

Then Henry was confused. As a centre-forward, he has gone on to become one of the greatest goalscorers in the Premier League; But Lemerre booked David Tresquette to play at the top of the French attack, dropping the Arsenal forward to his former position on the left. The choice of Lemar made sense as Drizeguet scored 32 goals in 46 games for Juventus that season. However, Henry did not see it that way and said so. He was frustrated by a mysterious injury that forced him to play a practice match against Urawa Reds with a knee brace. The atmosphere in the Senegalese camp could not be tougher.

Senegal's French coach Bruno Metsu embraces a member of his team after the final whistle.
Senegal’s French coach Bruno Metsu embraces a member of his team after the final whistle. Photo: Elise Amendola/AP

” I am “Don’t forget we discussed before the match,” El Hadji Diouf recalls. Bruno Mezzo entered the locker room and pulled his hair back. “What can I tell you today?” he said. We’ve been together for a long time now. I know you all very well. You are a bunch of crazy people. Tonight, after the match, people from all over the world will be cheering you on. I know they will talk about it. Get up and show me what you’re capable of. It was huge. We had nothing to say. He saw us and knew we could come out and win.

Before the match, Mitsuo insisted that his players use every second of the allotted hour to get used to the pitch. Not the case with Lemerre, who wrote off light training as “unnecessary.” What was clear from the start was that Senegal was by no means intimidated. In the fifth minute, they created their first real chance and Diouf, who may have played the game of his life, stunned Desile in the air and found Galileo Fatiga, whose shot was very close to Fabian Bart.

This scene repeats itself everywhere. With Diouf playing the role of a bully, Franck Leboeuf and Desailly struggling to keep up, France full-backs Lilian Thuram and Bixante Lizarazu check their natural way of playing to offset the inertia of the centre-back until their team’s comeback after half-time. track line.

The Blues have had their moment. But wealth and composure have given them up. Then France seemed to have established a kind of dominance, and just before half an hour had passed the unthinkable happened.

Djorkaeff was captured; The ball was sent into the path of Diouf, who sent in a low cross with three emphatic touches and incredible speed, resulting in Leboeuf’s death on the left. The ball bounced off Betty and Bart into the path of Papa Bouba Diop, the only Senegalese player among the six who panicked. Diop slid, but managed to hook the ball into the empty net.

Senegalese Aliou Cisse took a knee to celebrate the final whistle in Seoul.
Senegalese Aliou Cisse took a knee to celebrate the final whistle in Seoul. Photo: Kim Jae-hwan/EPA

Most of the Senegal team gathered near the right corner flag to dance around Diop’s shirt. “At half-time we went into the dressing room with a 1-0 lead and big smiles on our faces,” Diouf recalled. “We gave each other high fives. Bruno came in, and he was furious. We robbed! He said, ‘Guys, it’s not over yet! There’s still 45 to 50 minutes to play. There’s nothing in the bag. You can give yourself high fives after the game. This It is what we need.”

A reaction from France was to be expected, but while the Metsu defense was hurled by Metsu defenders and goalkeeper Tony Silva, Cisse managed a one-man wall in front of the penalty area.

UAE referee Ali Bujzim blew the final whistle to the comfort of the Korean audience, who felt a mixture of shock and joy. Dakar exploded with joy. Paris… Well, Paris still believes in the heroes of ’98 and ’00, but not for long. Tough questions will be asked soon. We already know what it is: Senegal asked them and answered them.

This is an edited excerpt from Against All Odds: The World Cup’s Greatest Upsets. Posted by Halcyon (£15.99)

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