TODAY IN HISTORY

May 31, 2019

 

On this day 31 May 2002 (Exactly 17 years ago) Senegal shocked France and the footballing world by claiming victory in the opening game of the FIFA World Cup.

Midfielder Pape Bouba Diop upstaged France’s cast of star names to score the decisive first goal of the tournament after 30 minutes.

The defending champions struggled to find their stride and clearly suffered from Zinedine Zidane’s withdrawal through injury.
In his absence it was left to Senegal’s El Hadji Diouf to claim the starring role.

Diouf repeatedly harassed the French defence into mistakes and was instrumental in Bouba Diop’s goal.

After all the hype and build-up and a spectacular opening ceremony, the first match of the tournament lived up to expectations – even if France did not.

Roger Lemerre’s team were patient to the extent of being pedestrian at times, and in an open game their probing play was often predictable.

Senegal captain Aliou Cisse shone at the back, sitting in front of his defence, marshalling his men and snuffing out any signs of danger.

And further up the field it was the 21-year-old Diouf who stole the limelight.

The African footballer of the year signalled his intent in the early stages, beating Marcel Desailly on the right flank, before turning his attentions to Frank Leboeuf.

The ageing Leboeuf had been pinpointed as the Achilles heel of the French line-up and was unable to cope with Diouf’s pace.

Diouf, playing as a lone striker, took on the 34-year-old, and raced clear on the half-hour mark before crossing to the centre from the by-line.

His Lens club team-mate Bouba Diop was on hand to steal in and make the most of a misunderstanding between Emmanuel Petit and Fabien Barthez to score.

Barthez and Petit’s misjudgement at the near post was symptomatic of France’s play.

The goal failed to ignite ‘Les Bleus’. Despite enjoying the majority of possession they lacked the inspiration and imagination that Zidane provides.

Trezeguet and Thierry Henry had chances which they failed to convert and Patrick Vieira’s free header from a corner went straight to goalkeeper Tony Sylva.

Instead it was Senegal who were to go closest, Khalilou Fadiga skimming the crossbar having twisted and turned Leboeuf to a standstill in the build up.

Fadiga’s effort stung France into action and moments later, after latching on to a Christophe Dugarry flick-on, Henry stabbed a shot onto Sylva’s crossbar.

But France were unable to sustain their efforts over the remaining 25 minutes bar a last-ditch Henry effort that Sylva saved at the second attempt.

France: Barthez, Thuram, Leboeuf, Desailly, Lizarazu, Wiltord (Cisse 81), Petit, Djorkaeff (Dugarry 60), Vieira, Henry, Trezeguet.

Subs Not Used: Rame, Candela, Christanval, Makelele, Zidane, Silvestre, Boghossian, Sagnol, Coupet, Micoud.
Booked: Petit.

Senegal: Sylva, Daf, Coly, Diao, Diouf, Pape Bouba Diop, Cisse, Diatta, Pape Malick Diop, Moussa N’diaye, Fadiga.

Subs Not Used: Sarr, Ndour, Henri Camara, Traore, Souleymane Camara, Faye, Diallo, Thiaw, Sylvain N’diaye, Beye, Cissoko, Mahktar N’diaye.
Booked: Cisse.

Goals: Pape Bouba Diop 30.
Att: 62,561

Referee: A Bujsaim (United Arab Emirates).

 

STORY: GEORGE MAHAMAH


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