Senegal’s coach, Aliou Cisse, has apologised for the shocking defeat they suffered in the African Cup of Nations round of 16 match against Ivory Coast. Senegal faced a heartbreaking exit at the hands of hosts Cote d’Ivoire in a post-match penalty shootout. The Teranga Lions, defending champions, succumbed to a 5-4 defeat after a 1-1 draw in regular time, leaving coach Aliou Cisse deeply apologetic for the team’s unexpected elimination.
The early stages of the match saw Senegal take the lead in the fourth minute with a brilliant strike from Habib Diallo, assisted by the prolific Sadio Mane. However, the Elephants clawed their way back, levelling the score at 1-1 in the 86th minute through Franck Kessie’s successful penalty kick following a lengthy VAR review.
Expressing his disappointment, Coach Cisse acknowledged the bitter nature of the defeat, emphasising the emotional toll on the players. “Sorry to our players and to the Senegalese people. It’s tough to see the players cry in the locker room,” he lamented.
Senegal, known for their rhythmic style of play, struggled to find their usual flow due to the relentless attacks from the determined Ivorians, who disrupted the Lions’ game plan after going down 1-0.
Reflecting on the match, Cisse remarked, “The match was strange and complicated; we could have won the game. We lost on penalties; we kept our lead until the last 5 minutes of the match.” Despite the disappointment, he highlighted the team’s earlier stellar performances in the competition.
“We prepared well for this competition, and let’s not forget we have three wins in three matches in the group stage,” Cisse said, hinting at the need for changes after the defeat and leaving the future open-ended.
The coach’s apology and the palpable sorrow among the players and Senegalese supporters underscore the emotional impact of the unexpected exit, leaving Senegal to grapple with the contrasting emotions of their triumphant 2022 campaign and the heartbreak of 2024.