CHAN 2023: Pape Thiaw, the "heelmaker" in the footsteps of Aliou Cissé

Pape Thiaw discusses with his players during the Senegal-Uganda match at CHAN 2023. © Pierre René-Worms

Text by: Ndiasse Sambe Follow

3 mins

The local coach of Senegal, member of the 2002 generation, has the ambition to write his name in Senegalese football as a coach.

Like his ex-teammate and mentor Aliou Cissé, African champion with the Lions.


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From our special correspondent in Annaba,

"The Heeler"!

The anecdote on this barbarism makes him smile greatly.

On the pediment of his family home in the Ouagou Niayes district of Dakar, a painting has long represented Pape Thiaw, the "hooker" to freeze in time the technical gesture.

This heel of the Lions striker who launched, more than 20 years ago, Henri Camara towards his golden goal against Sweden (2-1 aet) at the 2002 World Cup. The "fresco" lived and slowly disappeared accompanying the career of the player who would also slip from the lawn to the coach's bench.

For a long time, the image of the "hooker" remained, to the point of "annoying", the now coach of the local Lions.


It's as if my career in the national team was summed up in this backheel.

While, for example, I had scored a double and an assist in the last decisive match against Namibia (5-0) which qualified us for the World Cup


"Want to give for my country"

Today, the former Strasbourg player is "delighted" that his status as a coach has replaced that of a player since he qualified the local team at CHAN, 11 years after the Lions last participated.

An accelerated destiny since Pape Thiaw took the reins of selection A 'after the death of the holder Joseph Koto, victim of a malaise in October 2021. " 

I was his deputy and I learned a lot by his side 

", he testifies.

A destiny also accepted as the Dakar native had the ambition to transmit the know-how accumulated during his career as a player.

The best way to transmit was to coach.

As I had recurring knee injuries, I took the lead and went to graduate very early.

Today, I train with passion, and I want to give especially for my country



Aliou Cissé, the example to follow

After having cut his teeth in the very popular club of Niarry Tally (Dakar) for three years, here is Pape Thiaw invested with a bigger challenge.

With a little more pressure, especially with the success of the A team which became African champions.

At its head, a certain Aliou Cissé, a member of the 2002 generation, like Pape Thiaw.

The local coach therefore did not go far to find the perfect example to follow.


Aliou, above all, he is a big brother.

He was my captain in selection, and especially a mentor for me.

He is someone who shows the way.

He did something everyone dreams of: winning the CAN for his country.

If we talk a lot about Senegal in the world, it is partly thanks to him.

He is an example to follow, he is the best coach in Africa.

He's my idol



Pape Thiaw aims "with humility" to win a title with his protégés.

And despite a mixed record with a victory (1-0, Côte d'Ivoire) and a defeat (0-1, Uganda) during the first two days, Bouna - by his middle name - intends to win the first "final" of this CHAN in front of the DR Congo for the third and last day of pool B. Afterwards, the objective will obviously be to aim for the grand final which will be played on February 4, a day before the birthday of… Pape Thiaw.

There will certainly be no better gift than a continental trophy for the 'hooker'.

Pardon !

The coach...

CHAN 2023 in Algeria: Schedule and results


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