How former Portsmouth and Birmingham midfielder Aliou Cisse made Senegal history at AFCON thanks to Liverpool forward Sadio Mane's decisive penalty

Former Pompey midfielder Aliou Cisse led Senegal to Africa Cup of Nations glory yesterday – and made history in the process.

By Sam Cox
Monday, 7th February 2022, 11:22 am
Updated Monday, 7th February 2022, 11:35 am

Under the stewardship of the 45-year-old, The Lions of Teranga won the continent’s most prestigious title on penalties, after 120 nail-biting minutes against Egypt.

And by doing so, the ex-Blues figure guided the country to their maiden AFCON championships.

Their overall campaign was impressive, with Senegal qualifying for the knockout stages without tasting defeat – recording one win and two draws.

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They then cruised to the final with victories over Cape Verde, Equatorial Guinea and Burkina Faso – setting up a mouthwatering match with Mohamed Salah’s Egypt at the Olembe Stadium.

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And after a scoreless draw following extra-time, Sadio Mane scored the decisive penalty to ensure his Liverpool team-mate returned to Anfield with a runners-up medal.

For Cisse – who made 25 Blues appearances between 2004-06 – victory caps off a meteoric rise at the helm of his country, while exorcising demons of past failings at the tournament.

Ex-Pompey midfielder Aliou Cisse led Senegal to their maiden AFCON title. Picture: JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

In the 2002 final, he missed a crucial penalty against Cameroon, as their first title evaded them.

And it was heartbreak again 16 years later.

After reaching the 2019 final – this time as manager – Baghdad Bounedjah’s goal for Algeria in the second minute proved the difference.

But previous defeats have now been forgotten, with those affiliated with the national team hailed as heroes.

Cisse told the Independent: ‘’I dedicate this victory to the Senegalese people.

‘For years, we have been chasing this cup. Today we will be able to put a star on our jersey.

‘Winning the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon has a special meaning.

‘Winning against the most successful team in Africa is another symbol.’

After spells at Lille, Sedan, Paris Saint-Germain and Birmingham, the versatile midfielder was brought to Pompey by Harry Redknapp in August 2004.

He made his debut in a 1-0 League Cup victory over Tranmere, and totalled 25 appearances in royal blue by the end of the 2004-05 Premier League campaign.

However, he made only three more outings the following season, before returning to Sedan, then Nimes – where he eventually retired.

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