Senegal lost 2–0 to the Netherlands, Tunisia drew against Denmark, as did Morocco against Croatia. No team from Africa has won yet, but fans in the United States are not disappointed. The World Cup play has just begun and teams still have chances to win and advance to the next stage.
There was undeniable heartbreak for fans of the Senegalese team when the Lions of Teranga had to lose their first World Cup game against the Netherlands. But fans like Sadio Yaya Barrie are keeping their hopes alive.
“I would like to congratulate the Senegalese team,” Barrie, president of the New York-based Association of Senegal in the US, told Granthshala. “This is a very strong team. We know we lost the first game, but we see a young team that is very dedicated, involved and motivated to win games… Senegal played very well.”
He added that “people sometimes forget who the Netherlands team is. They are very strong in Europe.”
However, the loss hurt even more when goalkeeper Edouard Mendy could not prevent two goals minutes before the end of the game.
The Senegalese suffered another loss as midfielder Cheikhou Kouette had to leave the game after injuring a thigh muscle. This came after the team lost its star player Sadio Mane before the start of the tournament, also due to injury.
Other teams fought for draws, with Tunisia up against Denmark on Tuesday, and Morocco up against Croatia on Wednesday.
Hassan Samrouni, president of the Washington Moroccan-American Club in Washington, described Wednesday’s draw as “a great start for Morocco. Remember, we are playing the runner-up team that played in the final at the last World Cup.” In 2018, Croatia played against France in the World Cup final.
He reminded the fans that “a point is a great point for us. Remember, Argentina have zero points and Germany have zero points as well.”
The first few days of the event saw two surprises – Saudi Arabia defeated Argentina and Japan defeated Germany.
There have also been upsets in prior World Cup games, including in 2002, when Senegal claimed a first-round victory over then-world champions France.
Barry recalls the match and says he believes “this time the African nation are going to make a huge improvement, not only to reach the quarter-finals but also the semi-finals – and why not the final?”
He further added, “I believe it is time for the African continent to get the cup and take it to Africa. It is very possible. We have the teams, we have the qualifications and the requirements that we need. And they All the players, they are very professional.”
The African teams’ next matches are scheduled for Thursday, when Ghana play against Portugal and Cameroon play against Switzerland.
Samarhouni, who plays for his country’s national football team, advised players that “the World Cup happens once every four years and maybe once in a player’s career” and urged them to “make the most of it”.