alexa 'Hardest to come' for Senegal in quest for first Afcon title - Daily Nation

'Hardest to come' for Senegal in quest for first Afcon title

Saturday July 13 2019

Senegal's coach Aliou Cisse (left) and defender Lamine Gassama take part in a presser at the 30 June Stadium in Cairo on July 13, 2019, on the eve of their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations semi-final match against Tunisia. PHOTO | AHMAD AWAAD |

Senegal's coach Aliou Cisse (left) and defender Lamine Gassama take part in a presser at the 30 June Stadium in Cairo on July 13, 2019, on the eve of their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations semi-final match against Tunisia. PHOTO | AHMAD AWAAD |  AFP

AFP
By AFP
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CAIRO

Coach Aliou Cisse acknowledged Saturday the "hardest is yet to come" for a Senegal side trying to win the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time.

The Teranga Lions are the highest-ranked African nation, at 22nd in the world, and Cisse is bidding to lead his country a step further than the team he captained in an agonising penalty shootout defeat to Cameroon at the 2002 final.

"We're close to the goal, in the sense of us being in the semi-finals. Having got to this stage here we have hope. But we know the hardest is yet to come," said Cisse, who missed the decisive spot-kick in that loss to Cameroon.

"We hope this year will be the right one. We're two steps away, which is both a long way and not that far at the same time."

Senegal are making a first semi-final appearance since 2006, while Sunday's opponents Tunisia have not advanced this far since winning the competition on home soil 15 years ago.

"I'm aware of what getting to the semi-finals represents," said Tunisia boss Alain Giresse. "There was an obsessive aspect. It's a relief but not an end in itself."

Cisse, 43, replaced Giresse as Senegal coach in 2015 but the former France star insisted his first-hand knowledge of the opposition would have little bearing on the result.

"If the match came down to knowledge of the players that would be a good thing, but the reality is different," said Giresse.

"Knowledge and relationships are one thing but what happens on the pitch is the most important."

"It's pretty special to be on the other side, but it's a personal thing that only concerns me. It won't factor into the preparation of the Tunisian players," he added.

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