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Wayne Lumbasi


Aliou Cisse (born 24 March 1976) is a Senegalese football coach and former player. He has previously played for English Premier League club Birmingham City and later Portsmouth.

Cisse was a defensive midfielder who has, on occasion, played at center back. He is currently the head coach of Senegal, having briefly taken charge of them following Amara Traoré’s sacking, in a caretaker role in 2012. He was also the assistant coach of the under-23 side from 2012 to 2013, becoming head coach from 2013 to 2015.

Senegalese National Football Coach – Aliou Cisse /Courtesy/


Aliou Cisse began his career with Lille Osc. He then went to CS Sedan Ardennes then to Paris Saint-Germain.

He also spent the majority of the 2001-02 season on loan at Montpellier Herault SC. In the summer of 2002, Cissé captained the Senegal national team which reached the quarter-finals of the 2002 World Cup, beating holders France.

He then transferred to English club Birmingham city for their 2002-03 season.

Cissé made his debut at Arsenal on the opening day of the season, but was sent off. Though the sending-off was rescinded, he went on to pick up five yellow cards in six games, picking up ten yellow cards before the New Year.

Despite this poor discipline, Cissé was impressive for his club, until an injury in February ruled him out for the rest of the season.

Aliou Cisse days as a player /GETTY IMAGES/

He was then late in returning to pre-season training in July 2003, leading to manager Steve Bruce placing him on the transfer list. Cissé got himself back into the first team picture, but his relationship with Bruce continued to go sour, and after Christmas he only played three more games that season.

At the end of the season he signed for Portsmouth on a two-year contract, beating off strong competition from Premiership rivals Bolton Wanderers.

In 2002, Cisse lost several members of his family in the MV Le joola ferry disaster off the coast of Gambia.

Aliou Cisse (top) when he was playing for Birmingham city /GETTY IMAGES/


Cisse was officially appointed as the head coach for the Senegal national team in early march 2015.

His team then qualified for the 2018 FIFA world cup on 10 November 2017 against South Africa. Senegal were knocked out in the group stage of the tournament after becoming the first team in FIFA World Cup history to be eliminated due to fair play tiebreaker rules.

After the disappointments of Russia, Senegal set their sights on the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. Like previous tournaments, they were one of the favorites and lived up to that tag when they reached the final of the competition.

His Senegal team was defeated 1-0 in the final by Algeria, after losing by the same score in the group stage, and missed out on its first ever African trophy.

Cisse’s experience armed him with tools to respond to those setbacks. In 2002, he was captain of the talented Senegal who lost an AFCON final to Cameroon: five months later, they made history at the World Cup by defeating France in the opening match and advancing to the last eight.

In February 2019, Senegal’s Football Federation extended Cisse’s contract and his staff until August 2021.

Aliou Cisse /GETTY IMAGES/

Long term loyalty to managers is not a characteristic for which African football is famed. Either side of their all-too-brief but dynamic stay at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Nigeria announced two changes of manager and there’s still uncertainty on Thursday over who will guide them in next month’s World Cup play-offs against a Ghana team also bedding a new boss.

To stay in the post of national manager for 70 games, the milestone Aliou Cisse reached with Senegal in Sunday’s Afcon Final makes him a rarity. Cisse is also native of the team he leads. This marks him out as unusual on a continent where the first instinct among leading clubs and the more successful federations seems to be to hire coaches from abroad, usually Europe.

Cisse on Sunday night proved not to be just a very good coach but the greatest in his country’s history. This is a measure of his federation’s confidence in the 45 year old that whenever he has fallen short of a legacy achievement, they have stuck with him.

The former midfielder is seen as more than a coach to the players. He was a fans favorite and expected to deliver the nation’s first AFCON title. That wish materialized when Mane scored the decisive kick at Olembe Stadium leaving fans back home in an explosion of joy.

A festive atmosphere erupted in the capital city as thousands of supporters trooped to the independence square, near the presidential square to celebrate the historic moment.

Senegal’s head coach Aliou Cisse carried high as they celebrate winning the Africa Cup of Nations final

He has experienced both delight and heartbreak of Senegal’s footballing glories. The AFCON 2021 victory was a great achievement for Cisse, who could be seen shedding tears of joy.

Senegal football team had never won the AFCON title since the team entered the championship in 1965 and the closest they have ever come to winning was becoming position two in 2002 and 2019.

Jubilations in the streets of Darkar, Senegal 🇸🇳

It was also a redemption for Senegal head coach Cisse, whose penalty miss in the 2002 final resulted in his team losing to Cameroon.

In a post-match conference, he spoke about what this triumph means to the team and the nation.

“I am an African champion. It was long, it was difficult, sometimes complicated, but we never gave up. I dedicate the victory to the Senegalese people. For years, we have been chasing this cup. Today we will be able to put a star on our jersey. Winning the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon has a special meaning. Winning against the most successful team in Africa is another symbol. For almost seven years, we have been working. Good job guys.”

Aliou Cisse

Success might delay but it can never be denied with consistency.

People should believe in African coaches. Give them time and the resources to build for the long term and they’ll do wonders.

Aliou Cisse has been in charge of the Teranga Lions since 2015. Seven years of solid work and finally it has paid off!

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Wayne Lumbasi