|Profiles - World Cup Teams - Senegal|
Senegal produced a surprise performance to book their first trip to the
World Cup finals, emerging not only from the ranks of the unfancied but
through arguably the toughest of the African qualifying groups.
The Lions of west Africa edged out four-time World Cup finalists Morocco on goal difference to win their qualifying group and also finished ahead of two other countries who had qualified for the World Cup finals before - Algeria and Egypt.
Senegal has been one of the more politically stable countries in Africa and the source of a large quota of European-based players over the last decades, some of them like Patrick Vieira and Ibrahim Ba eventually playing for France.
But despite the platform for success, Senegal have always been among Africa's under-achievers, with their previous best performance on the international stage being a semifinal place at the 1990 African Nations Cup finals.
An example of the lack of expectation of the national side was demonstrated in February 2000 when a crowd estimated around 20,000 turned out at Dakar's airport to welcome the national side home - after they had taken Nigeria into extra time but had eventually been eliminated in the quarter-finals of the Nations Cup.
Much of that has changed with the dramatic rise in fortunes as Senegal lost just a single game out of eight in the qualifying campaign.
Draws away in Algeria and Morocco proved crucial as their self-confidence grew with each passing match.
Eight goals from El Hadji Ousseynou Diouf, the French-based striker, proved pivotal and were valuable contributions from other players based in France like Khalilou Fadiga, Henri Camara and Lamine Diatta.
Senegal can effectively field a side made up exclusively of players from the French league.
Diouf, who had earned himself a reputation for his temper and off-field indiscipline in France, resurrected his club career with his performances for the national team.
The side were coached by Frenchman Bruno Metsu, who built on the platform left him by the veteran German Peter Schnittger, a journeyman coach who has worked on the African continent since the late 1960s.
Schnittger's contract was not renewed in September 2000.
Since qualifying, Senegal have proved their results were no fluke with wins over both World Cup hosts as they prepare for the finals.
They beat Japan in France in October and won away in South Korea in November, before posting their most notable achievement to date, reaching this year's Nations Cup final in Mali wher they were beaten only on penalties by Cameroon.
Metsu is already promising Senegal will bring a new charisma to the World Cup finals in Asia, describing his team as "the new Jamaica" in reference to the enthusiasm attracted by the "Reggae Boyz" in France in 1998.
They certainly will be something of an unknown quantity.