Senegal in the 2002 World Cup: The Forgotten Fairytale

Over the years, the footballing world has witnessed many great national teams. What about the teams who have either “overachieved” or gone on a fairytale run? In terms of a fairytale story, not many teams have done better than Senegal in 2002.

No one expected Senegal to make it as far as they did, and if you had bet on it you could’ve had a big payout. Get betting tips for events including the World Cup at BetBlokes.

Senegal in the 2002 World Cup: The Forgotten Fairytale

Group Stage

Placed in Group A, Senegal had some tough competition. The Senegalese had to face, Denmark, Uruguay and the reigning champions France. Even without Zidane, Les Bleus were still heavy favourites going into the game.

The Senegalese manager, Bruno Metsu, who was born in France, set his team up perfectly and without fear.

Captained by Aliou Cisse, Senegal took the lead through Papa Bouba Diop. In what was a frustrating day at the office, the French couldn’t find a response, which meant that Senegal held on for a historic win.

Les Bleus failed to reach the knockout phases, finishing bottom of Group A.

A brilliant team goal finished off by Salif Diao against Denmark ensured a 1:1 draw leaving it all to play for in the final game.

Senegal managed to secure knockout football for the first time ever, following a 3:3 draw in their final match with Uruguay.

Sweden awaited the West African nation. The Swedes finished top of Group F after beating Nigeria and drawing to England and Argentina.

Bruno Metsu’s side played without fear and with confidence in the Group Stages. Even though many doubted Senegal, they let the football do the talking.

Round of 16

Sweden were a well-established Word Cup side, Senegal would be a walk in the park for them.

Henrik Larsson gave the Swede’s an early 1:0 lead, but back came Senegal. Henri Camara’s superb strike arrowed into the bottom corner.

Senegal, who had to dig deep, held on for a 1:1 draw, meaning another 30 minutes of football. That wasn’t the only twist. The game had to be decided by a golden goal.

At the 104th minute, Camara skipped through Sweden’s defense to score past Magnus Hedman, which sent the Africans through to the Quarter Finals.


The sky was the limit for Senegal, but all good things must come to an end.

In the game against Turkey, for a place in the Semi-Finals, Senegal continued to play with real passion and believed that they could beat anyone.

However, the game was decided by a golden goal, and in the 94th minute, İlhan Mansız scored the deciding goal for the Turks breaking Senegal’s hearts.

To this day, Senegal are only the third African nation to ever reach the World Cup Quarter-Finals.

That year, they had the world backing them, after their Group Stage heroics.

The likes of, Henri Camara, Papa Bouba Diop and El Hadji Diouf impressed in that tournament. Coming in as heavy underdogs, Senegal proved that playing as a team and without fear, can get you far in a tournament.

The 2002 World Cup will go down as a fairytale year for the Senegalese and one in which put African football on the map.

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Embed from Getty Images

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