Despite making just two previous appearances at World Cup finals, Senegal have a very interesting history in the tournament. They reached the quarter-finals in 2002, pulling off one of the biggest shocks ever when they defeated hotly-touted defending champions France in the opening game.
Two respectable draws against Uruguay and Denmark followed, and then another shock win against Sweden in the last 16. Fellow dark horses Turkey ended their dream run in the quarter-finals and they were then forced into a lengthy wait for another World Cup appearance where at the 2018 World Cup, Senegal became the first side eliminated in the group stage thanks to the fair play rule, as Japan had a better disciplinary record. The Africa Cup of Nations holders will be hoping to emulate the former performance rather than the latter at this year’s tournament.
Our footy trader Dylan Walsh takes you through what to expect from Group A qualifiers Senegal at the World Cup 2022.
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Senegal World Cup 2022 qualifying record
Senegal recovered from a 1-0 first-leg deficit to beat Egypt on penalties in the second-leg of their play-off match. Previous to this, they finished top of their qualifying group, scoring 15 and conceding four, finishing unbeaten. Famara Diedhou was top scorer over the campaign with four, but Sadio Mane was the star man with three goals and four assists across the whole campaign.
Who is the Senegal manager?
Aliou Cisse played professionally in France from the 1990s to the early 2000s before having a Premier League stint with Birmingham and Portsmouth. He has been managing Senegal since 2015 and has a 70% win rate during his time at the helm.
Known as “El Tactico” for his efficient and restrained approach to game, Cisse has also been very outspoken when it comes to European managers belittling AFCON. In 2021 he was particularly angry when Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp referred to Africa’s showpiece as a “little tournament”, and was one of many to speak out against Napoli’s owner Aurelio De Laurentiis who floated the idea of not signing African players due to disruption caused by AFCON commitments.
Senegal World Cup squad
The Senegal squad has two standout players in Kalidou Koulibaly and Sadio Mane but the latter missed out through injury. Players like Bouna Sarr, Abdou Diallo and Idrissa Gueye spent last summer looking for new employers due to lack of playing time at their respective clubs and Cheikhou Kouyate, Ismaila Sarr and Youssouf Sabaly are playing regular minutes for La Liga and Championship sides. Generally, Senegal play 4-1-4-1 but when looking for a goal (as happened in their second leg against Egypt) they can switch to 4-2-3-1 with Mane in the hole for extra creativity.
- Goalkeepers: Edouard Mendy, Alfred Gomis, Seny Diang
- Defenders: Bouna Sarr, Saliou Ciss, Kalidou Koulibaly, Pape Abou Cisse, Abdou Diallo, Ibrahima Mbaye, Abdoulaye Seck, Fode Ballo Toure, Cheikhou Kouyate
- Midfielders: Pape Matar Sarr, Pape Gueye, Nampalys Mendy, Idrissa Gana Gueye, Moustapha Name, M. Loum Ndiaye, Joseph Lopy
- Forwards: Ismaila Sarr, Bamba Dieng, Keita Balde, Habib Diallo, Boulaye Dia, Famara Diedhiou, Mame Babe Thiam
Senegal One to Watch
When Boulaye Dia moved to Villareal at the start of 2021, he was a hot prospect out of Stade Reims with 14 goals over the previous campaign. Things have not panned out for him as expected and after only 25 appearances and five goals for the Yellow Submarine last term, he was loaned out to Salernitana for this season. He has an eye for a goal and scored the crucial equaliser against Egypt which levelled their World Cup qualifier earlier in the year.
Senegal World Cup Prospects
Senegal are one of the stronger African sides at the World Cup and as current AFCON champions would have viewed it as a disappointment if they hadn’t made it past Ecuador and Qatar into the last 16. With that test passed they will now face England but they won’t be huge underdogs in Sunday’s match up. While they struggle creatively, Senegal have quality in their ranks and will fancy their chances against a Three Lions outfit who are not on the hottest run of form coming into the tournament. A quarter-final appearance would be a very respectable showing for the Lions of Teranaga.
Senegal World Cup Winner Odds
Senegal World Cup 2022 Fixtures
November 21, 4pm: Senegal 0-2 Netherlands
November 25, 1pm: Qatar 1-3 Senegal
November 29, 3pm: Ecuador 1-2 Senegal
December 4, 7pm: England v Senegal (ITV, RTE)
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