The Senegal national football team were given a heroes’ welcome as they returned home from Cameroon where they won the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.
The Lions of Teranga beat Egypt in shootouts on Sunday at Paul Biya Stadium in Olembe to win their first ever AFCON title.
President Macky Sall who declared a public holiday to celebrate the historic day, welcomed the team at the Leopold Sedar Senghor Airport in Yoff.
Thousands of people thronged the streets to have a glimpse of their heroes, sung songs in praise for the team that about three years back were beaten finalists in 2019 edition in Egypt.
The team arrived at 1pm in Senegal and will later be taken to the Country’s Palace on Tuesday.
Per reports in Senegal, President Macky has cancelled his trip to Comoros to celebrate the victory.
“Thank you to the Lions who made history with this coronation,” President Macky is quoted.
“I can’t help but think of Mawada Wade, Souris, Lamine Diack, … all the figures in history, Jules François Bocandé, coach Bruno Metsu, how not to think of Bouba Diop. Dear Lions, Senegal will reward you for your performance. You showed the aggressiveness, the determination and the courage that you showed to take us the cup. You make us proud.”
Sadio Mane missed from the spot earlier in the game before the Lions of Teranga held their nerves to win the final in shootouts.
Coach Aliou Cisse, who was the captain as Senegal lost to Cameroon in shootouts in 2002, said: “We dedicate this victory to the Senegalese people because since independence until now, we have been chasing after this first star.”
Speaking in Senegal in front of the President, and on behalf of his players, Captain Kalidou Koulibaly stated: “Winning this AFCON title was a dream for all of us. Today Al hamdoulilah, we did it. Thank you all for staying behind us. Thanks to you, we brought this magnificent trophy which is for you, especially our president, his Excellency Macky Sall.”
Koulibaly presented the trophy to the President of the Republic as promised. “We promised it and we are doing it, we have the cup and we will give it to the President of the Republic.”
And as the celebrations continues, and when the dust settles, Senegal will start preparations to face Egypt in the World Cup playoff tie due March.