Sidy Sarr scored a vital goal in the dying minutes that saw Senegal beat Congo 4-3 on Saturday to reach the semis and also clinch the final berth for the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
Sarr’s injury time goal crowned Senegal’s total dominance of the match that will be inked in the history books as the country’s first ever win in an African U-20 Championship and with it a place at the last four as well as a ticket to the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
Nigeria and Ivory Coast played a 2-2 draw in the other Group A clash in M’bour that trumpeted a glorious victory for the ‘Les Lionceaux’ who finished on four points, three behind the Group winners Nigeria, whilst Cote d’Ivoire with three points and Congo with one point had to pack up for home.
The Congolese were almost assured of a 3-2 win before Sarr equalised in the 88th minute before digging in the match winner in injury time to send the half-packed Leopold Sedar Senghor Stadium in an emotionally festive mood.
Paolo Berrettini, Head Coach, Congo
“We were in control for a better part of the second half but Senegal managed to finish better. The Senegalese believed till the end that explains their victory and qualification”.
Pavelh Ndzila, Captain, Congo
“Lack of concentration in the dying minutes cost us. We came back strongly to equalize and went into the lead 3-2. However, we lost concentration towards the end allowing Senegal to draw level and score a fourth. We are very disappointed but that is football”.
Joseph Koto, Head Coach, Senegal
“We have achieved our first objective and I’m very proud of my boys. I prefer to play bad and win than to play well and lose. I was very confident till the end. That explains why I took out a defender (Alassane Sylla) for a forward (Sekou Gassama) in the closing stages. The players showed strong will and wanted to do something for themselves and the country as well. If we had lost Senegalese football would have died. We did not deserve to be out of the competition. After achieving our first objective, we will put in all the efforts to win the trophy”.
Alassane Sylla, Captain, Senegal
“It was not an easy game. We had to fight till the end to achieve the result we had. We did our best and we got victory at the end. I’m happy we have qualified and sad at the same time because I cannot play in the semis due to suspension”.
By: Jammeh E.K. Bojang