AFCON 2012: Senegal’s exit, where are the Dembas?

 

Who would have believed that star studded Senegalese team would be the first to bow out of the 2012 African Cup of Nations tournament holding in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea without a point?

With prolific strikers like Demba Ba and Papiss Demba Cissé, Senegal was tipped by many to reach the final stage of the tournament. However, the reverse was the case, as even the Dembas could not help Senegal secure a quarter final ticket.

Demba Ba and Papiss Demba Cissé are currently playing for the Newcastle United in the English Premier League.

Ba signed for Newcastle United on a three-year deal on June 17, 2011, making his club debut on 13 August 2011. His first goals for the club came on 24 September 2011 with a hat-trick against Blackburn Rovers in a 3–1 home win. A second hat-trick came in a 3-1 away win at Stoke City.

Papiss Demba Cissé (left) and Demba Ba stand together for a team photo

Ba’s goalscoring form continued despite Newcastle entering a downward spell, and saw him picked in ESPN.com’s Premier League Best XI for the first half of the season, and named Premier League Player of the Month of  December 2011. By the time Ba left to play in the January international tournament-African Cup of Nations 2012, his league tally had reached 15, making him second top scorer in the league behind Arsenal’s Robin van Persie.

On the other hand, Cissé joined Newcastle side on a 5½ year contract on 17 January 2012 from SC Freiburg in the Bundesliga league.

During the 2010-11 Bundesliga season, Cissé was second in the league in goals scored, only behind Mario Gomez of Bayern Munich who scored 28. Cissé also set a club and league record. His 22 goals during the course of the season set the single-season goal record by an SC Freiburg player, as well as set the record for the most goals scored by an African in a single Bundesliga season.

Following their goal scoring exploits in their clubs, it was expected that they would replicate same in their national team. And it was not surprising that they were ranked among the best teams of the tournament.

Senegal’s early exit only confirm what many have come to believe that there are no more ‘small teams/underdog in African football. Those regarded as ‘small teams’ are ones making the desired impacts.

Meanwhile, it is said that one man’s meat is another’s poison. As Senegalese team, fans and the country at large are lamenting over their woes, Newcastle United of England is happy that two of their valued strikers are returning earlier than expected.

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