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   June 19, 2002 | 1155 IST


Umit Davala
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Metsu, Senegal are a perfect match

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Frenchman Bruno Metsu was following a well-trodden path when he became the latest European coach to go searching for soccer jewels on the African continent.

In Senegal, he appears to have unearthed an entire squadful.

Under the relaxed gaze of their long-locked French guru, Senegal have dazzled the 2002 World Cup with a series of stunning results.

Undaunted by an opening match against holders France, Metsu's enterprising but disciplined side shocked the soccer world by winning 1-0.

Since then, the World Cup debutants have proved that result was no fluke, holding experienced Denmark and Uruguay to draws and then beating Sweden in the second round.

Blue-eyed Metsu is now staring at a place in African football history, if he can inspire his players to beat Turkey in the quarter-finals.

"Turkey could be very difficult but we are fighting for Africa," the 48-year-old said. "We will do everything to become the first African team to reach the World Cup semi-finals."

Metsu played for, among others, Belgian side Anderlecht and French team Lille before taking up coaching in 1988.

Following spells at Beauvais, Lille and Sedan in France, took over as Senegal coach in October 2000.

A host of European trainers have steered the fortunes of African national sides over the years, among them co-host Japan's coach, Philippe Troussier.

Metsu set about raiding the French leagues for players of Senegalese origin and almost everything he has touched since has turned to gold.

Senegal qualified for their first World Cup and reached the final of this year's African Nations Cup, where they lost to Cameroon on penalties.


All that pales into comparison with Senegal's wonderful displays in South Korea and Japan, where their combination of European know-how and African flair has set them apart.

At the moment 22 of Metsu's 23 players earn their club wages in France. That won't be the case for long after the World Cup, with Europe's top clubs already circling the squad.

Striker El Hadji Diouf and midfielder Salif Diao are both bound for English club Liverpool, while Henri Camara, the two-goal hero of the Sweden victory, seems unlikely to remain at Sedan for long either.

That leaves Metsu himself, of course.

European coaches in Africa have always been open to charges that they are there to exploit the local talent in order to better their careers.

Media reports have suggested Metsu, who has married a Senegalese woman and has a contract until November 2003, may take up a lucrative coaching post in, of all places, Turkey, after the World Cup.

He rejected the suggestion, though not without a degree of qualification. "Not true" he said. "I'm remaining in Senegal at this stage."

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