Senegal’s quest for glory last time out may not have gone according to plan but the West African nation is in the country for the 2021 edition of the U20 Barthes Trophy and they are confident they will emerge victorious this time around.
A 45-12 defeat to former holders Namibia in the semifinals of the 2019 tournament meant that they had to shelve their ambition for the top prize and fight for survival against Tunisia on the final day.
“Our trip to Kenya last time was good although our aim was to win the tournament. We did not win but third was not so bad. Thankfully we have another chance to go at it again this year,” says their captain Ameth Sarr.
Sarr, a member of the squad that played in Nairobi two years ago, is confident that this is their time to shine especially with the unfortunate events surrounding Namibia. “Unfortunately Namibia pulled out of the tournament. It is sad but our expectations have not changed. We will enjoy ourselves.”
Senegal is set to take on hosts and defending Champions Kenya, popularly known as Chipu, in the first match at the Nyayo National Stadium on Saturday 26th June. Sarr acknowledges how good their opponents are but insists that they are not fazed.
“Kenya is a very good side, we have watched them play a few times, we have also met once, and they are good no doubt. We are however very prepared to give it our best shot, a win is our target,” opines Sarr.
Just before Senegal boarded the flight to Kenya, National hero, and star of the Senegalese National football team Sadio Mane visited the team in camp. “It is a huge boost to us, he has achieved a lot and having such a huge personality visit us in camp makes us want to perform at this tournament,” concludes Sarr.
A true journeyman, Sarr has played almost every position in a rugby game, from front row to full back and both wings and now, he will be turning out at first center for this particular tournament. He will hope that his versatility coupled with his experience from the previous tournament can inspire his charges to glory.