Under time pressure, with a deadline initially set for June 30, the Senegalese Football Federation (FSF) has decided to register Casa Sport as Senegal's representative in the Confederation Cup (CAF). The Senegalese Cup final, which was supposed to see the eventual winner qualify for this competition, has still not been played. Is the FSF's decision unfair to the future winner of the Senegalese Cup, or is it a good idea?
Over the past two years, the Senegalese Cup has seen a sporting devaluation. A qualifying competition for the CAF Cup, it did not allow Etoile Lusitana, finalists in 2022, to qualify for this continental competition. Beaten 3-0 in the final by Casa Sport, Étoile Lusitana were to have inherited the CAF Cup ticket, while their tormentor won the Senegalese championship and thus qualified for the CAF Champions League.
The FSF preferred to appoint Jaraaf, 2nd in the league, as Senegal's representative in the CAF Cup. In the end, the club from Dakar was forced to withdraw from the draw for the preliminary round. Once again this year, the Senegalese Cup will see its winner left out in the cold. Casa Sport, having already been designated by the FSF, were at the draw on Tuesday and will face Étoile Filante de Ouagadougou in the preliminary round.
Casa in the CAF Cup, a lesser evil
I don't see any problem in appointing Casa Sport as Senegal's representative in the CAF Cup, especially as the deadline was June 30," recalls Pape Sané, sports journalist and local soccer specialist. It was imperative to save the situation. The Federation deemed it necessary to appoint the latest Senegalese Cup winner, who is currently 3rd in the league. What's more, they have a women's team. Unlike Jaraaf and Stade de Mbour. We were forced to sit out last year's CAF Cup. The Federation was right to select Casa Sport because they were in the Champions League last year, and they're the Senegalese Cup holders," he explained to SNA.
The Senegalese Cup final is set to pit Stade de Mbour against Jaraaf. The latter's semi-final against Guédiawaye FC was interrupted by fans when Jaraaf were awarded a penalty in the 120th minute. The Médinois are now in contention for a 16th Senegalese Cup. When interviewed by SNA, the club's sporting director couldn't hide his dismay at the FSF's decision. We're obliged to accept it, since it's a decision by the Federation," says Cheikh Sidy Ba. From an ethical point of view, I'd say it's penalizing for the team that will win the Senegalese Cup.These are players who fought hard to win the national cup, only to miss out on the CAF Cup," he laments.
Despite his disappointment, the former Senegalese international defender understands the Federation's reasons for doing so. "It's a shame, but to avoid being forced out like last season with Jaraaf, it's a good decision to allow our clubs to take part in an African competition. It's up to the Federation to organize itself better next season to hold its competitions so that we have our representatives in African competitions by the deadline.We have to learn from our mistakes so that something like this doesn't happen again," added Cheikh Sidy Ba.
Prioritizing the Senegalese Cup
Is the Senegalese Cup in danger of losing its sporting appeal?In 2022, Jaraaf, 2nd in Ligue 1, were preferred to Étoile Lusitana, unfortunate finalists in the national cup ahead of Casa Sport. This year, the Senegalese Cup winner will not be taking part in African competitions."At this rate, I don't see the point of playing in the Senegalese Cup any more. The teams won't play their chances to the full, because even if they win, they won't be taking part in the CAF Cup. The interest in such a competition is not financial, but it's a chance for a squad to discover Africa," confided Pape Sané.
Jaraaf's sporting director insists that it was a one-off situation that led to the absence of the future Senegalese Cup winners from the CAF Cup. Cheikh Sidy Ba notes, however, that it is necessary to identify the hazards that can lead to such a situation. "The late start of our competitions is the first obstacle for our soccer. From one season to the next, our clubs go three or four months without competition. That's where we need to find solutions, by giving players vacations of a month and a half, two months maximum. Resume competitions very early, so that we can wrap up our Champions League and CAF Cup campaigns sooner.
He adds: "Reduce the number of pages without matches during the season. Give priority to the most important competitions, such as the championship and the Senegalese cup, rather than the league cup, which doesn't qualify for any competition. The Senegalese Cup is more valuable than the League Cup. Sports journalist Pape Sané agrees. "The Federation would do well to plan ahead.Organizing and scheduling competitions is no longer enough. The championship must start on October 1 and end on June 10, and these dates must be respected.