Coach Pape Bouna Thiaw turned up for the post match press conference for one last time basking in ecstasy, after his team’s TotalEnergies African Nations Championship (CHAN) 2022 win.
Thiaw was experiencing a mix of emotions after Senegal’s stardust performance, and he thanked the home-based Teranga Lions’ former coach Joseph Koto whom he replaced, before engaging media professionals.
“We have a young team which knows how to endure. We have players with character and that’s what our team showed today to make the difference.”
The Teranga Lions sailed through a difficult group B tagged the “group of death” as leaders before going on to defeat Mauritania and Madagascar in the quarter-final and semi-final respectively.
Quizzed on the team’s motivation which let them achieve the gargantuan feat, Thiaw explained;
“During the briefing I told the boys to work hard. To show the values of our local football. It was easy to galvanize them today. Our players were really motivated.” At that point, Senegalese reporters at the Nelson Mandela stadium paused to sing for Thiaw, a new hero inducted into the Senegalese football hall of fame.
The man who turns 42-years-old on February 5 activated a spirit of fairplay and praised the over 38 thousand Algerian fans who gave Senegal a standing ovation, after calling the victory his “best possible” birthday present ever.
“We can’t thank these fans enough. Today, two brothers met on the football pitch and all I can say is thank you.
“We have a youthful team that was hungry and wanted to go as far as possible. Patience is the main ingredient. We worked hard and we were patient. Today we have the results.” Thiaw opined.
The CHAN 2022 final was the most nerve wracking in the competition’s 14 years of existence. The finale was a close call and it took late drama for Senegal to clinch it 5-4 on penalties.
Algeria’s Aymen Mahious had the chance to win the game with the last of the 5-aside spot kicks but his failed attempt sent the shootout to sudden death, and Senegal turned things around to win. Thiaw of all people knows what a close contest it was;
“Algeria didn’t deserve to lose this final. Our Federation did a lot to bring us this far.
“We have now won three trophies through penalties. The AFCON, beach Soccer and CHAN. This is interesting after doubts were thrown at our team as regards penalties,” Thiaw ended.
Senegal now prides itself as the only country on the continent who have won the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations, Beach Soccer and now, the CHAN for a first time.
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