Remember back at the 2002 FIFA World Cup when Senegal went on a remarkable run to make the quarterfinals only to be stopped short in extra time by Turkey? I certainly do. I remember it being very hard to cheer against the African team who, seemingly out of nowhere, became tournament darlings and earned the “Cinderella” tag.
Well, it seems like they’re at it again at the 2012 Olympics. After playing Great Britain to a 1-1 draw in their opening game, Senegal handled Uruguay 2-0 this afternoon in the second game of group play getting two goals from Moussa Konate (who also scored the team’s goal in the game against Great Britain).
Olympic football doesn’t get the attention of a Euro Cup or a World Cup and seems to be treated as more of an afterthought. While I am certainly not suggesting that there should be as much fervor over the Olympics as those tournaments, I think that there is a lot to be said for Olympic football and that it’s time for it to get its due.
There is a, perhaps justified, criticism that top talent is not at the Olympics representing their countries but I kind of like that about the Olympics. I like that there is a more balanced field and that it allows teams like Senegal to prove surprising upstarts. I like that a team like Egypt can push a team like Brazil to a 3-2 final like in the thriller of the teams’ opening match.
I’m not expecting bars to be filled to the brim with excited football fans but, hell, if the balance makes a silly Canadian like myself more interested in the event, that’s probably a good thing. So, yeah, sure, let’s go Senegal. Keep this interesting.