Senegalese football fans moved from hope to despair as the Teranga Lions lost against Colombia’s Cafeteros 1-0, making it the last African team to exit the World Cup.
“We’re disappointed and discouraged. But if God decided it that way, we’ll accept it,” Marie, a tearful 22-year-old hostess with Senegal’s flag painted on her cheeks, said.
“Compared to 2002, we have a real team now, a great team.”
On Dakar’s main plaza, Place de l’Obelisque, thousands of supporters, many wearing their country’s red, green and yellow, huddled to watch on two screens, while children drapped in flags played.
Young men were standing on scooters or on the back of pickups and sitting on tree branches in the hope of catching a glimpse of the action.
Senegal was the last remaining African team in the competition after Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia and Nigeria were eliminated.
Early in the game, a penalty opportunity sent the crowd and the vuvuzelas roaring under the hot afternoon sun. Dancing erupted in the audience as passing yellow taxis beeped their horns.
But the decision was quickly overturned by the referee, and the street sellers offering colourful bracelets, flags and wigs to passersby went back to work.
The west African team required only a draw with Colombia, but could also have squeezed through to the last 16 in the event of defeat depending on the result of the other group game between Japan and Poland.
In the second half, following Colombia’s only goal, silence descended on the plaza. Drum rhythms echoed louder as the Senegalese defeat became clearer.
When already-eliminated Poland stunned Japan 1-0 and Senegal suffered a 1-0 defeat, it left Japan and Senegal with the same points and the same goals difference.
Eventually, the west African country was eliminated due to having worse disciplinary record than their direct rivals.
“That’s the way it is, it’s the law of sport,” Ali, an old tailor, said.
Still, among the silent crowd leaving after a tense game, some remained positive.
“I’m not disappointed,” Mustapha Niasse, a 23-year-old comedian, told AFP. “We dominated Japan – that’s fantastic