Aliou Cisse waves to fans after the match with Japan. (Eugene Hoshiko / Associated Press)

With apologies to Cristiano Ronaldo and all the other worthy young men in World Cup competition, the tournament’s first sex symbol has arrived and it’s, well, it’s a coach.

Aliou Cisse, the man who leads the Senegal team, has generated quite a buzz on social media, where he has drawn comparisons to superhero Black Panther and praise for his cool and his moves.

And let us not forget the fist pumps.

And again with the cool.

Asked about it Saturday, he could only try to laugh off his new reputation, saying, “Ask the ladies.”

“I don’t think I’m a sex symbol at all,” he added. “There are millions and millions of Aliou Cisses in Senegal and the world.”

If only.

Cisse, 42, is the youngest coach in World Cup and the only one who is black. “It’s a painful reality that annoys me,” he told reporters. “I believe that football is universal. I believe that skin color has little importance in the game.”

Cisse, reportedly also the lowest-paid coach, happens to be a soccer hero in Senegal, which is making its second World Cup appearance. The first came in 2002, when Cisse was captain of the team that upset France, the defending champion, in the opening game and advanced to the final eight.

Social media now is boosting him to a new level of international acclaim, and he’s doing his best to make peace with it.

“It’s good to be loved,” he said.

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