Senegal coach Aliou Cisse identified defensive mistakes and a gulf in class as the main reasons behind their 3-0 defeat by England in the last 16 at the World Cup in Qatar.
The Teranga Lions, who were without injured striker Sadio Mane and suspended midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye, made a positive start and the African champions were the better side until England scored twice just before half time.
“A match lasts 90 minutes and in the first half we played pretty well and created chances but unfortunately we didn’t score,” said Cisse, who was unwell in the run-up to the match.
“We have worked for years to be the best in Africa but we were facing one of the top five teams in the world and we saw the difference.
“We were playing a very good England team and we saw that in their challenges, their physical strength. We weren’t as good as we should have been.”
England scored a third goal early in the second half which effectively ended the contest and ensured a quarter-final meeting with France for Gareth Southgate’s side.
“Senegal’s strength before the World Cup was our defensive set-up,” said Cisse.
“The fact we have let in a lot of goals at this tournament is difficult to explain. We are going to have to look at that.
“You pay for any mistake you make at the World Cup because of the calibre of the teams.”
Senegal failed to qualify for the knock-out stages in Russia four years ago and Cisse, whose side are ranked 18th in the world, thinks his team are on an upward trajectory.
Meanwhile, with Morocco also making it through to the last 16, the 46-year-old also sees African football making progress despite his side’s limp exit.
“It is not easy to become world champions but in Africa infrastructure is improving,” he said.
“We need more technical directors, we need to work on refereeing as well. You need all those things in place.
“We’ve made mistakes in the past. You can’t just do it overnight. In all countries in Africa there is a real sports policy in place. We have to keep that up if we want to win these tournaments.”
Meanwhile, Senegal goalkeeper Edouard Mendy credited England for playing well but said there is more to come from the West Africans, who have had a memorable year after winning their first continental title (Afcon) in February.
“We have young players and we are still learning and we will come back stronger in 2026. I think the team is still improving. We have shown it all year,” said the Chelsea man.
“During the year we played a lot of tough games. And we won the first Afcon in the history of the country.”
Mendy also highlighted the World Cup play-off win over Egypt in the new Stade Abdoulaye Wade in Diamniadio as another sign of progress.
“We have a lot of things to be to be proud of,” the 30-year-old added.
“But we faced a top team (in England) who played at their highest level. We are disappointed but full credit to them. I wish them all the best.”