Sunday, June 02, 2002

Senegal players still buzzed after upset

The Associated Press

        SEOUL, South Korea — A day after beating heavily favored France, Senegal's players and coach still were basking in the glory.

        “I received a message from Senegal that everybody is happy. I think it is good for us to win against France, the world champions. I think all Senegalese are very happy about this result and so am I,” Senegal's Papa Bouba Diop said Saturday.

        Diop scored the only goal of Friday's World Cup opener while sliding on the ground, knocking a rebound past French goalkeeper Fabien Barthez. The “Dakar Lions”' 1-0 win ranks among the greatest upsets in World Cup history.

        Senegal coach Bruno Metsu, who is French, said the victory proved there was no such thing as a World Cup weakling anymore. He was pleased that everyone is talking about Senegal for a while.

        “After the match we were zapping between channels on the hotel TV and everywhere they were talking about Senegal. Unbelievable,” he said. “I would never have thought that the world would have been so interested in us.

        “Everyone, especially the media, considered Senegal as a small team in the World Cup. But we proved there is no such thing as a small team. Anyone can beat anyone.”

        All of Senegal's starters play professionally in France, a fact Metsu thought gave his team an edge.

        “They have a culture of strategy. They're disciplined and they're focused,” he said.

        However, Senegal striker El Hadji Diouf said Friday he was making a move away from France and had signed a contract with Liverpool of the English Premier League.

        “I have signed for five years,” the 21-year-old said. “It's definite. Next season, I'll be there.

        “I am delighted to be joining Liverpool. I want to become one of the best players in the world and I'm sure that at Liverpool, with a coach like Gerard Houllier, I can do that.”

        Liverpool officials weren't immediately available for comment.

        Senegal next plays Denmark on Thrusday, while France faces Uruguay the same day and desperately needs a victory if it is to progress to the second round.


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