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El Hadji Diouf. Remember the name... France certainly will after the 21-year-old Lens striker shredded the imposing reputation of the reigning world and European champions in the opening game of the 2002 World Cup in Seoul, South Korea.

Minnows in the world of football, Senegal, tournament organisers and football fans around the globe, couldn't have dreamt up a more perfect first act to the greatest show on earth.

Diouf certainly deserves much of the credit for Senegal's sensational result and now it is just a matter of whether he can become a true superstar and lead his team into the second round.

Without looking forward, we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that these Lions of Teranga, like the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon before them (defeated reigning champs Argentina 1-0 in the opening match of Italy 90), will forever live in infamy for causing one of the greatest upsets in world football.

You can't help but marvel at the tenacity of this group of gifted Africans. From the opening whistle, there were no signs of intimidation.

Quite the contrary, Senegal came out ready to play exciting attacking football, and they did so quite well.

Not wanting to take anything away from the stirring performance, this was not the same French side that has so boldly taken the reigns as the world's greatest football team over the past four years.

With a hint of arrogance, France came out and belittled the occasion by playing below itself. There were few signs of the intensity or creative control that was testament to the triumphant campaigns of France 98 and Euro 2000.

Perhaps it was simply one of those days. Perhaps the absence through injury of midfield maestro Zinedine Zidane disrupted its game plan. Perhaps it was a lack of luck. Whatever the excuse, this result had better serve as one almighty wake-up call or Les Bleus will be heading home, literally with the blues.

The normally vocal French fans were also obviously jaded by the experience. Falling silent for considerable chunks of the match, they watched on with an air of stunned silence as France capitulated to its first World Cup loss since the semi-finals at Mexico 1986.

In Diouf, Senegal possesses a raw talent bred in France’s own backyard. Like most of his teammates, Diouf has played out his entire career in the French first division, but that's unlikely to continue as his man-of-the-match performance is sure to add to the growing raft of top European clubs chasing his signature.

Diouf also highlighted a concerning lack of cohesion and form in France's defence. Desailly and Leboeuf appeared unsure of themselves in the face of Dioup. While dominant in the air, the two veteran central defenders failed to disrupt Dioup's mastery when with the ball at his feet.

Indeed it was Leboeuf's tame and unsuccessful challenge on Diouf that led to the winning goal on 30 minutes.

It's too early to tell if Diouf might become the next hero of Africa, like Cameroon's veteran of veterans Roger Milla through the 90s, but his and Senegal's place in history is secure.

After the match, the African drums were beating loud on the streets of Seoul and Senegal's legion of fans are sure to ensure the beat goes on, all the way down to Daegu for the match against Denmark on June 6 and just maybe into the final 16.
 
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