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09 December 2023

Senior Senegal players call for post Nations Cup calm

By Reuters

Senegal should not rush into dismantling their soccer team, despite the disappointing first-round exit from the African Nations Cup, senior players said. 

"There is no point in going in that direction, that will just add to errors," the 33-year-old Olympique Marseille defender Souleymane Diawara told reporters in Bata, where Senegal complete their tournament against Libya on Sunday. 

"It has really hurt to be eliminated in the first round when we were convinced this team would do so much better," added fullback Omar Daf, the only player who remains from the 2002 team that reached the Nations Cup final in Mali and went on to become World Cup quarter-finalists in Japan. 

"It is not long ago after the disappointment of the Nations Cup in 2006 that officials thought they could change things by dismantling the team. But we subsequently saw this was not the best solution. In my experience we all need to keep calm and first see what went wrong before drawing drastic conclusions. 

"The current squad is young, talented and very willing," added the 34-year-old Daf of a team that shone in the qualifiers, eliminating Cameroon, only to crash out in the finals. 

Senegal were eliminated after losing their opening game to Zambia and being beaten by co-hosts Equatorial Guinea, a side ranked more than 100 places below them. 

"It is true we did not put in the performances we needed to but it would be a bad idea to start from scratch," added Diawara with an eye on the World Cup qualifiers which start in June.