Though the Lions of Teranga could not roar past the Netherlands in their first world cup match, Africa’s highest-ranked team still has the stealth and skill to subdue the remaining opponents
- World Cup appearances:
This is Senegal’s third World Cup after making their debut in South Korea/Japan in 2002 and competing for the second time at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
- Best performance:
Senegal shocked the world when they stormed to the quarter-finals of the 2002 tournament on their debut, with victory against then-champions France, Denmark, Uruguay and Sweden, before losing to Turkey in extra time.
- Victims of an unusual FIFA rule:
They were the first team in World Cup history to be eliminated using the fair play rule after being tied with Japan in the 2018 edition. Both teams obtained the same points when they met and scored the same number of goals. Because Senegal had accumulated six yellow cards against Japan’s four, FIFA eliminated them.
- Generational talent:
Midfielder Khalilou Fadiga was the creative force behind the Teranga Lions’ good run in 2002, and 20 years later, his son Noah, who plays for Brest in France, is part of the 2022 class hoping to eliminate them or go one better in Qatar.
- Star man:
In the absence of the injured Bayern Munich winger Sadio Mane, captain Kalidou Koulibaly is the star and leader of the team on and off the pitch. The 31-year-old Chelsea defender was the skipper when they won the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, and he will lead from the front again in Qatar.
Aliou Cisse has been the team’s coach since 2015. The 46-year-old was the captain during their memorable run at the 2002 tournament, and he has led them to two Africa Cup of Nations finals (2019 and 2021), winning the latter and as many World Cups (2018 and 2022).
Mane might be out, but the lions are still loaded with world-class talent, starting with Koulibaly and goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, both of Chelsea, Idrissa Gueye (Everton), Cheikhou Kouyate (Nottingham Forest), Youssouf Sabaly (Real Betis), Nampalys Mendy (Leicester City) and Ismaila Sarr of Watford.
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