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Monday, 8 April, 2002, 11:45 GMT 12:45 UK
Senegal's road to the finals
President Abdoulaye Wade was one of the first people to congratulate the team
President Abdoulaye Wade celebrates with the squad
BBC Sport Online examines how the competition's surprise package qualified for the finals.

Anyone who watched Senegal's progress through the World Cup qualifiers would not be surprised that the Lions of Teranga made it to the finals this summer.

The side that emerged from a group including three former African champions and World Cup participants proved themselves clearly the best team.

But when the qualifying process began two years ago, Senegal were expected to provide no more than token opposition for Moroccos, Egypt and Algeria.

Qualifying campaign
D 1-1 Algeria (a)
D 0-0 Egypt (h)
D 0-0 Morocco (a)
W 4-0 Namibia (h)
W 3-0 Algeria (h)
L 0-1 Egypt (a)
W 1-0 Morocco (h)
W 5-0 Namibia (a)

That they have emerged as the new force in Africa is a credit to a fine, French-based group of players, and an astute new manager.

It is also a source of enormous joy to a football-mad nation.

In fact, Senegal are used to causing shocks and surprises.

They beat Egypt, the hosts, in the opening game of the 1986 African Cup of Nations and, four years later, in Algeria, they reached the semi-finals for the first time - their best result until this year.

While that team looked strong, any hopes of qualifying for the World Cup in Italy were dashed when the chairman of the Senegalese FA forgot to register them for the competition.

So, until this season, Senegal had only really made waves at regional level, where they have won West Africa's Amilcar Cabral Cup a record seven times.

Striker El Hadj Diouf
El Hadj Diouf scored eight goals in nine qualifying games
They did not get off to the best of starts with their 2002 World Cup qualifying campaign, drawing their first three games, albeit against their strongest group opponents.

The credit for much of Senegal's recent success lies with French coach Bruno Metsu, who took over from the German Peter Schnittger in the autumn of 2000.

But Schnittger had laid some firm foundations, leading the side to the Nations Cup quarter-finals in Nigeria, where they came within nine minutes of beating the hosts.

Metsu, however, has accelerated the pace of change, scouring his homeland for eligible players, and four victories in the last five qualifying games were enough for Senegal to edge out Morocco on goal difference.

With players such as Khalilou Fadiga at Auxerre, El Hadj Ousseynou Diouf at Lens and Henri Camara at Sedan, the Lions have the core of their squad playing in the French league.

Ferdinand Coly is a team-mate of Diouf, goalkeeper Tony Sylva is at Monaco and captain Aliou Cisse at Montpellier

French coach Bruno Metsu
Coach Bruno Metsu has taken Senmegal to new heights

And these players are translating their exposure to European competition with their clubs into international success with Senegal.

Success in World Cup qualification was followed by an impressive performance at the 2002 Nations Cup in Mali, where Senegal beat Nigeria en route to a first final.

There they succumbed to Cameroon in a penalty shoot-out, but it was enough to confirm them as the emerging stars of their continent's football.

Cameroon caused the shock of the finals in Italy 12 years ago and Nigeria were expected to do better in France in 1998.

What price the latest of Africa's success stories to surpass themselves this summer?

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GROUP A
  P GD PTS
DENMARK 3 +3 7
SENEGAL 3 +1 5
URUGUAY 3 -1 2
FRANCE 3 -3 1

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