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Senegalese World Cup Success Sparks Celebration


Senegal will go against Sweden in a second round match at the World Cup football (soccer) finals in Oita, Japan. The success of the African squad has resulted in joyous celebration.

After Senegal upset defending champion France 1-0 in the opening World Cup match May 31, thousands of Senegalese ran into the streets of the capital, Dakar. Some danced and others carried the country's red, green, and yellow flag. Schools were closed and President Abdoulaye Wade declared a national holiday.

There have been more celebrations after Senegal played to draws against Denmark and Uruguay. Those results gave the Africans a total of five ranking points - a tally good enough to go through to the World Cup's round of 16.

President Wade has been one of the team's biggest boosters, urging the squad, (nicknamed "The Lions of Teranga") to keep winning to defend the colors of Africa.

In Dakar, the Senegalese leader had a public square near the oceanfront renamed "Lions," in honor of the team. Senegal's head coach, Frenchman Bruno Metsu, says the team wants to create a wonderful story for African football.

Four months ago in Mali, Senegal established itself as one of the best teams in African football. Senegal lost to Cameroon 3-2 on penalty kicks, in the final of the African Cup of Nations tourney, the continent's premier soccer event.

Patrick Andrew is a sports reporter for Nigeria's Daily Trust newspaper. In an interview with VOA Sports, he said based on Senegal's performance in Mali, the team's showing at the World Cup should not be considered a surprise.

"We saw a team that has character," he said, "we saw a team of promise, a team for the future. So we are not surprised that in the first match against France, the Senegalese were able to overrun France. Even though it was 1-0, victory is victory.

Senegal will not be at full strength Sunday when it vies for a victory against Sweden. Salif Diao has received a two-match ban by the Disciplinary Committee for the International Football Federation, FIFA. Diao was sent off in the match against Denmark June 6, shortly after scoring Senegal's goal.

Khalilou Fadiga will also miss the game against Sweden after picking up two yellow cards during the World Cup. Fadiga scored on a penalty kick in Senegal's most recent match, a three-all draw Tuesday with Uruguay.

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