Flying high, the Young Lions of Teranga
* First were the senior Lions of Teranga when they lifted their first-ever AFCON title in Cameroun
* In which they won all matches except against Malawi in the group stages that ended 0-0
* Senegal also won the African National Championship (CHAN) which is for domestic league players
* And also added more glory by winning the AFCON U-17 in Algeria as well as being AFCON Beach Soccer champions
By Duncan Mlanjira
Senegal Under-20 beat their neighbours Gambia 2-0 on Saturday to win their first-ever U-20 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) and complete the Lions of Teranga’s fairytale run in Confederation of African Football (CAF) competitions in a year.
First were the senior Lions of Teranga when they lifted their first-ever AFCON title in Cameroun in which they won all matches except against Malawi in the group stages that ended 0-0.
Senegal also won the African National Championship (CHAN) which is for domestic league players and also added more glory by winning the AFCON U-17 in Algeria that also earned them 3 additional accolades — Fair Play award, third Man of the Match (by teenage sensation Lamine Camara) and Best Goalkeeper Award (Pape Mamadou Sy).
Senegal are also AFCON Beach Soccer champions and having qualified for the U-20 semifinals, the young Lions of Teranga have earned themselves a place at the FIFA U-20 World Cup alongside The Gambia, Nigeria and Tunisia to be hosted in Indonesia.
They completed the U-20 championship with a hundred percent record — winning all their matches without conceding a goal in which they were playing their fourth U-20 AFCON final having finished runners-up in 2015, 2017 and 2019.
Coached by Malick Daf, the young Lions of Teranga Lions earned three individual awards — Best Player through star midfielder Lamine Camara; Best Goalkeeper through Landing Badji and Umbro Golden Boot award by Pape Diop.
According to CAFonline, the midfielder Camara — who has just been recruited by French side, Metz FC — was rewarded for his standout performances throughout the tournament.
The report said the 19-year-old star played an integral part in Senegal’s success in Egypt with his pressing and ability to create scoring opportunities for Malick Daf’s side.
He was also one of the standout performers at the CHAN in Algeria where he earned three Man of the Match award.
CAFonline says goalkeeper Landing Badji kept six clean sheets at the tournament and was also named the Best Goalkeeper of the group stages.
The report says the 19-year-old is already considered in Senegal as one of the best in his position as he is also part of the Senegal U-23 national team.
“A very agile and commanding goalkeeper, Badji is also technically good with the ball,” reports CAFonline. “His ability to play from the back has earned him an assist in the Senegalese Professional League for AS Pikine.
“Last November, he was in Belgium for trials at FC Brugge and the TotalEnergies U-20 title will undoubtedly offer him greater exposure as scouts from leading clubs around the world followed the tournament with keen interest.
For Pape Demba Diop to earn the Umbro Golden Boot award, the 19-year-old scored five goals in the tournament of which he opened his account in beating Mozambique 3-0 their group match before hitting a famous hat-trick against host nation Egypt to eliminate the Young Pharaohs.
CAFonline says: “Diop showed real promise in the tournament as he pushed for first team action at Belgian side Zulte Waregem. The Ouakam born maestro was a delight to watch in the well drilled Senegalese team.
“He scored a sumptuous goal to put Senegal in front against Tunisia in the semi-finals at the Suez Canal Authority Stadium.”
Meanwhile, seven-time U-20 AFCON champions Nigeria won the Fair Play award — recognised by the CAF Technical Study Group of the tournament for showing professionalism, dedication, passion and discipline.
The young Super Eagles won the third place play-off match after beating the young Carthage Eagles Tunisia 4-0 on Friday in Cairo.