Senegal manager Aliou Cisse has asked the governing body of African football, the Confederation of African Football (CAF), to exempt his team and other World Cup teams from the Senegal qualifiers.
The international break in Africa is focused on qualification for the 2023 African Cup of Nations which will be taking place in Cote d’Ivoire in the summer of 2023. Senegal won the 2021 tournament which was shifted to January 2022 for the second time due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the continent.
Due to the calendar, Senegal will only spend one year on top of Africa as champions as they are currently competing for a spot in the next edition of the tournament. They have been drawn into Group L alongside Mozambique, Rwanda and Benin Republic and have already won their first two matches against Benin Republic and Rwanda to sit atop their group as things stand.
The team has been dispatched for their holidays before they return to their various clubs for pre-season and their next AFCON qualifier game is against Mozambique on September 19. Manager Cisse has however asked the leadership of African football to exempt them and the other qualified nations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup to enable them to prepare for the tournament.
Senegal, Morocco, Cameroon, Tunisia and Ghana will represent Africa at the Mundial and Cisse believes that the qualifiers will distract from their preparations for the tournament.
What has been said
"The best thing to help the five nations that have qualified is to stop the [qualifiers] in September," Cisse said."This would give the opportunity to the countries qualified to do their preparations. I think we can find a solution to postpone the qualifiers scheduled for September."
Senegal are overwhelming favourites to retain their crown in the next edition of the AFCON despite it being almost a year away. Their rise to the top of African football has been a story of patience which Cisse has helped to write.
The 46-year-old former Paris Saint-Germain midfielder was a finalist with Senegal in the 2019 tournament but they lost out narrowly to Algeria. They returned to the final in the January 2022 iteration to claim their first-ever African title.
Cisse, who captained Senegal in his playing days, is the country’s longest-serving coach - and the longest-serving coach of any African nation as well.
They are expected to cause an upset at the upcoming World Cup having been drawn in Group A alongside the hosts Qatar, The Netherlands and Ecuador. They will also open the tournament on November 21 following a special dispensation granted to the host nation to play their opening game at a later time.