In our Senegal Preview: World Cup 2018, we share our analysis about this Senegal team. After reaching the quarterfinals at the 2002 World Cup, can Senegal go deeper in this year’s Copa Mundial?
Senegal Preview: World Cup 2018
Goalkeepers: Abdoulaye Diallo, Khadim N’Diaye, Alfred Gomis
Defenders: Kalidou Koulibaly, Kara Mbodji, Youssouf Sabaly, Saliou Ciss, Salif Sane, Lamine Gassama, Moussa Wague
Midfielders: Cheikhou Kouyate, Idrissa Gueye, Cheikh N’Doye, Alfred N’Diaye, Badou N’Diaye
Forwards: Sadio Mane, M’Baye Niang, Moussa Sow, Mame Biram Diouf, Moussa Konate, Keita Balde, Diafra Sakho, Ismaila Sarr
- Manager: Aliou Cisse
- Captain: Cheikhou Kouyate
- Best Finish: Quarter-Finals (2002)
Likely starting lineup
Football fans of a certain vintage will vividly remember the manner in which Senegal lit up the 2002 tournament, stunning defending champions France in the opening game before making their way to the quarter-finals.
It was a remarkable sequence of results and in manager Cisse, the current crop have a key member of that legendary team pushing them forward. The hope will be for all back home that they can replicate the successes of 16 years ago on their first return to the World Cup since.
You wouldn’t say it’s beyond the Lions of Teranga, as they have plenty of recognisable names in their squad and a couple of world-class performers too.
Kalidou Koulibaly is a man capable of locking a defence together and he’ll be expertly shielded by the irrepressible duo of Idrissa Gueye and Cheikhou Kouyate. Senegal’s main strengths come further up the field, though.
Cisse has switched between a 5-3-2 and a 4-3-3 system in the buildup to the tournament, although neutrals will be hopeful he opts for the latter, as it allows him to get the dynamic trio of Sadio Mane, Keita Balde and M’Baye Niang on the field at the same time.
Aside from Koulibaly, Mane is the clear star of this outfit and he’s typically given freedom to express himself by Cisse. His agility and pace make him so tough to stop and in a tremendous season with Liverpool he was full of productivity; Mane capped an excellent year with goals in both legs of the Champions League semi-final and the final itself.
They have enough to get out of the group, but defensively it’s difficult to see Senegal shutting out too many classy operators, despite the influence of Koulibaly. Between the sticks they lack a dependable goalkeeper, while the rest of the back four is nowhere near the standard of the Napoli man.
Key Man – Kalidou Koulibaly
Often the best defenders can lift the level of those around them with their presence and leadership. Koulibaly will need to do that in Russia to keep Senegal’s hopes alive.
The center-back comes into the tournament after a sensational season with Napoli, where he was the defensive linchpin in a team that ran Juventus so close in the race for the Serie A title.
Koulibaly is a colossal defender when he’s on form. Few players can bully him physically, as he’s a force in the air and so difficult to get around for attackers. Additionally, during his time in Italy his positional work and anticipation has come on a lot.
What Koulibaly also brings is composure and for a team who will likely depend on releasing the front three on the break, his ability to find forward passes and set up breaks will be vital. The centre-back also showed he can be a threat from set pieces last season, with his towering, winning header against Juventus in the last minute one of the standout moments in European football last term.
Senegal’s Group Stage fixtures
Tuesday, June 19
Sunday, June 24
Thursday, June 28
Senegal’s path to the final
If Senegal wins Group H, their Round of 16 game will be against the country that finishes second from Group G which will either be England, Belgium, Panama or Tunisia. If Senegal wins that Round of 16 game, Senegal will enter the quarterfinal stage with a game against the team that is victorious between the winner of Group F (Germany, Mexico, South Korea or Sweden) and the team that finishes second in Group E (either Costa Rica, Serbia, Brazil or Switzerland). If Senegal advances to the semi-final stage, it’ll play the winner of the quarterfinal that comes out of the B1 vs. A2 versus D1 vs. C2 series.
If Senegal finishes second in Group H, Senegal will play the team that finishes first in Group G (either England, Belgium, Panama or Tunisia). If Senegal wins that game, it would be in the quarterfinal against the team that is victorious between the winner of Group E (either Costa Rica, Serbia, Brazil or Switzerland) and the team that finishes second in Group F (either Germany, South Korea, Mexico or Sweden). If Senegal advances to the semi-final stage, it’ll play the winner of the quarterfinal that comes out of the A1 vs. B2 versus C1 vs. D2 series.
Senegal World Cup shirt (home)
For its second appearance in a World Cup in team history, Senegal will wear jerseys from new supplier PUMA. Known as The Lions of Teranga, Senegal is part of a challenging group that includes Poland, Colombia and Japan.
The Federation badge is sewn on, with embroidered PUMA logo.
Senegal World Cup shirt (away)
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