World Cup Preview: Senegal

This year we see Senegal competing in only their second World Cup since 2002, in which they made it to the quarter finals. Luckily for us, our Senegalese attacker, Sadio Mane, prepares to take the stage at Russia. Follow Emma (@emmalouu00) on exploring the depth of Senegal’s squad and their advancement into the World Cup.
Overview

Senegal’s World Cup background hasn’t left them with something big to talk about after losing in the quarter finals to Turkey’s, İlhan Mansız, in the 94th minute. Since then, they have been unable to even qualify for the World Cup which could work in their favour as they should, presumably, be well prepared for the up-and-coming games. We saw in the preliminary tournaments that the African team sailed through unbeaten in the competitions, which was seen for the first time in 12 participations.

After a total of 7 goals in 5 World Cup games, I do believe that Senegal are in a weak position going into the World Cup through their pure lack of experience although I also do hope they surprise us doubting viewers by displaying that and more of what we saw in 2002.

Head Manager
Manager, Alious Cisse, posing for FIFA World Cup 2018 portrait session at the team hotel in Russia

After captaining Senegal into their quarter final position in 2002, Cisse moved onto Premier League teams Birmingham and Portsmouth. He later joined French teams, Sedan and Nimes, in where he first began his career.

Since hanging up his boots by retiring in 2015, Cisse became apart of the national coaching set-up and took over from Alain Griesse in coaching Senegal all the way to the quarter finals of the African Cup of Nations. They lost to Cameroon on penalties.

His appearances in the qualifying stages of the 2002, 2006 and 2018 World Cups demonstrate his level of experience working within such a wide competition as the World Cup, both on pitch as a player and off pitch as a coach. This amount of knowledge can really push Senegal to even rise above their own expectations based on their performance in 2002.

Group

With Japan excluded, Senegal seem to be the most inferior group in terms of out and out quality. Poland have more experience within the World Cup after competing eight times which is in comparison to Senegal’s, seemingly unfortunate, two. Poland seem to blossom in preliminary games but show a lack of success within further stages which could work in Senegal’s favour. With Mane as Senegal’s prime player, he challenges that of Poland’s “greatest ever goal-scorer” Robert Lewandowski as we can expect to see both strikers aiming to dominate the games.

Poland captain, Robert Lewandowski, posing before the 2018 World Cup

Columbia’s plethora of young players will, hopefully for them, give them the energy and stamina they need for such big games as those in the World Cup. Centre back, Yerry Mina, was signed to Barcelona earlier this year and so this World Cup could give him the opportunity to show the world the talent he displays in local cup competitions such as Copa del Rey.

From the four countries in group H, Japan seem to have the least amount of expectations from viewers. Their 2-0 win over Australia in the final qualifiers gave them the chance to compete in the World Cup although their previous history may lead us to believe that Japan is not a country Senegal should be threatened by.

Verdict
Senegal’s team in training for their first game against Poland in the 2018 World Cup

 

With their previous 16-year absence behind them, Senegal fans and football fans in general should, rightly so, be wary about the up and coming games although I fully believe we should keep an optimistic view on them. Senegal could surprise us all and put there hearts and souls into each match.

Fixtures
June 17th (Senegal V Poland)
June 24th (Senegal V Japan)
June 28th (Senegal V Columbia)

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