World Cup team preview: Senegal

Senegal will head to the World Cup in Russia looking to make a serious impression as one of the rising forces in African football.

Their route to the tournament, however, was contentious to say the least. They looked likely to play second fiddle to South Africa who beat them in a crucial qualifier.

Yet, they were given a second bite at the cherry when FIFA found Ghanaian referee, Joseph Lamptey, guilty of manipulating the outcome.

The Senegalese then went on to win the subsequent replay and eventually top the group to qualify.

In coach Aliou Cisse they have a man who has been there and done it before. Cisse captained the team that qualified for their first ever World Cup finals in South Korea and Japan in 2002.

They shocked the world with a victory over defending champions France before a valiant top eight finish.

The Lions of Teranga will look to star man, Sadio Mane for inspiration. The speedy Liverpool winger had an outstanding season domestically and also scored 10 goals in the UEFA Champions League.

Cheikhou Kouyate will be their anchor man in midfield. The experienced and dominating midfielder has the ability to break down play and get the game moving quickly. The 28-year-old West Ham man will also captain his country at the tournament.

The West Africans are notoriously known for their physique and boast a tough tackler in Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, who will be at the heart of their defence.

Senegal boast a mix bag of results as far as their preparation for the tournament is concerned. They drew 0-0 with Luxembourg before beating South Korea 2-0 and then narrowly lost 2-1 to Croatia in their final friendly before the showpiece.

They find themselves in group H alongside Poland, Japan and Colombia.

Their first fixture of the tournament is against Poland and a favourable result will put the Africans in a good position going into the second encounter against Japan.

Cisse’s outfit only play group favourites Colombia in the final game of group H which could be a massive advantage.

Full squad

Goalkeepers: Khadim Ndiaye, Abdoulaye Diallo, Alfred Gomis.

Defenders: Kara Mbodji, Kalidou Koulibaly, Moussa Wague, Saliou Ciss, Youssouf Sabaly, Lamine Gassama, Armand Traore, Salif Sane.

Midfielders: Pape Alioune Ndiaye, Idrissa Gueye, Cheikhou Kouyate, Cheikh N’Doye.

Forwards: Sadio Mane, Diao Balde Keita, Ismaila Sarr, Diafra Sakho, Moussa Konate, Mame Biram Diouf, Mbaye Niang.

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