Losers or winners, Algerian players like Senegalese were welcomed as heroes on their return this Saturday. The two capitals celebrated their national team finalist of the 32nd African Cup of Nations (CAN) which ended Friday in Cairo by the coronation of Algeria (1-0).
"Champions! Champions! ", chanted Saturday in Algiers a huge crowd in green and white colors came to cheer their victorious Fennecs. Their bus was forced to pace to allow tens of thousands of fans time to approach their heroes, returned with a second African trophy, 29 years after the first, conquered at home by their elders.
Same triumphal welcome in Dakar for the Lions of Teranga who also had the right to the honors of their country. Defeated by their defeat, the players of Senegal found a smile Saturday during a triumphant return to Dakar, where they were also cheered by a huge crowd throughout a bus ride from the capital. A moment that will remain engraved in the memories.
Received by Macky Sall
Arrived from Cairo at Léopold Sédar Senghor airport at 16:00 (GMT and local), Sadio Mané and his teammates boarded a white bus to get to the Palace of the Republic, where they were received by President Macky Sall.
The journey, about fifteen kilometers, took place at a pace and lasted more than four hours. Descended from the neighborhoods of Yoff, the Medina, HLM or Colobanne, the Dakar accompanied the procession on foot, motorbike or perched on cars, taking the urban highway leading to the historic heart of the capital where agglutinating on the decks overlooking the players' passage.
Emerging at times from the roof of the coach, the "Lions" were taking pictures, seeming amazed at the sight of thousands of supporters waving flags, dancing and jumping to the sound of vuvuzelas and taking heart "Dieureudieuf Senegal! " (Thanks Senegal, in Wolof national language).
The Senegalese, with their status as a globalist, African leader in the FIFA rankings, and the contribution of his European champion Sadio Mané (Liverpool) were still convinced the day before finally defeating on the occasion of the second continental final of their history, after that lost in 2002 against Cameroon.
But the hopes of a football-loving people were showered in the 79th second by deflected shot bell Algerian Baghdad Bounedjah. "Luck did not smile, but I hope it will be for next time", responded Sadio Mané, evoking his "Sadness", when he got off the plane but we could see a little later, shirtless, shake hands through a window of the coach, a big smile on his lips.
In Algiers, the triumphant bus hit by two stars and the inscription " We are proud of you "escorted by a large number of bikers and police vehicles, struggled to make progress in a cheering crowd. The 23 players and their coach on a double-decker bus took more than four hours to cover the 15-kilometer distance from the airport to the city center.
"I wanted to see if these players were normal men or beings from another planet"Samia, 74, is all dressed in white, as if she were at a wedding party and came from Blida with her son for the occasion. And when the bus finally reached the place of May 1, an immense clamor broke out. In total communion with their fans, the players began to sing with them songs to the glory of the country. "Eh, oh, greet our heroes, this is just the beginning, the rest is coming"they sang in Arabic to the glory of the country and the national selection.
If in Dakar the reception was also very warm, it still remained the pinch in the heart of this victory so close and which once again escaped the Lions. "We are very happy to return to the country, but we would have liked to bring back the cup for this people, these supporters"said coach Aliou Cissé. "The players have given their all, it's an honor for me to coach these boys"added the former Lions captain, an unfortunate CAN finalist in 2002.
"We would have liked to come back with the cup", while Senegal has never won a major trophy, added midfielder Papa Alioune N'Diaye, "Disappointed" like many of his teammates. For the President of the Senegalese Federation, Augustin Senghor, the "Feelings are mixed", between the joy of having "Crossed several steps" during this CAN and the "Strong disappointment" to have missed the last step. "We're not going to abdicate, next time we'll go get her"he promised.