Ex-Pompey midfielder masterminding World Cup bid

Aliou Cisse in action for Pompey against Tranmere. Picture: Steve Reid
Aliou Cisse in action for Pompey against Tranmere. Picture: Steve Reid
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Senegal are bidding to make another World Cup impact – and they’re being masterminded by a player who left a fleeting impression on Fratton Park.

Ex-Pompey midfielder Aliou Cisse is spearheading the African country’s second foray into the tournament’s finals.

A combative performer during his playing days, Cisse skippered Senegal in the 2002 World Cup as they became only the second African nation to reach the last eight.

Papa Bouba Diop, a future Blues player, netted the only goal in a remarkable 1-0 victory over world champions France in the opener of that tournament.

Nowadays a coach, Cisse is overseeing their Group H progress in Russia – matched in a pool containing Poland, Colombia and Japan.

Back in August 2004, Harry Redknapp recruited him from Birmingham City in a £300,000 deal, yet he struggled to make a south-coast impact.

Handed a debut in a 1-0 Carling Cup success at Tranmere in September 2004, Cisse subsequently went on to total 28 appearances over two seasons.

In fact it was Redknapp who signalled the end of the midfielder’s Fratton Park days – after returning from Southampton to inspire the Great Escape.

Cisse was an unused substitute in Redknapp’s second debut as boss, a 3-1 defeat at Spurs in December 2005, and swiftly featured three times.

However, following a 2-1 defeat at Blackburn in January 2006, he never made another appearance as the likes of Pedro Mendes and Sean Davis arrived from Spurs to strengthen the midfield area.

Cisse also operated at right-back at times for the Blues, while notably came off the bench to replace Patrik Berger for the final 33 minutes of the 4-1 triumph over Southampton in April 2005.

Yet his stay was not a memorable one and he departed for French side Sedan in the summer of 2006, following the Great Escape.

Capped 35 times by Senegal, he has been in charge of the national side since March 2015, emerging from the ranks of assistant manager with the under-23s.

The Lions of Teranga ended a 16-year wait to return to the World Cup finals by topping African Group D during an undefeated qualification campaign.

Their opening match in Russia will take place on Tuesday against Poland. Kicking off at 4pm, it will be staged at the home of Spartak Moscow.

Cisse, who is now aged 42, also appeared for Lille, Paris Saint-Germain, Montpellier, Birmingham and Nimes during a nomadic playing career.