Senegal, England face-off in battle of the Lions

Senegal's players take part in a training session with teammates at Al Duhail SC in Doha on December 3, 2022 on the eve of their Qatar 2022 World Cup match against England.
 

Photo credit: Jack Guez | AFP

What you need to know:

  • The first to qualify, Senegal, can still write history by becoming the first African nation to advance to the quarterfinal stage twice.
  • The current Teranga Lions have repeatedly referred to the success of their 2002 predecessors and will be fired up for this fixture.

In Doha

Last Friday held so much promise for Africa.

Ghana were lying second in Group H and just needed to avoid defeat against Uruguay to advance to the second round.

Cameroon also had a fighting chance of advancing, needing to beat Brazil in Group F and hope the match between Serbia and Switzerland went their way.

Indeed, the first World Cup in the Middle East and the Arab world looked like it would also be Africa’s with more than two teams making it to the round of 16 for the first time in history.

But, in dramatic fashion, Ghana crumbled in a 2-0 loss to Uruguay while Cameroon roared with a famous victory against fabled Brazil that, in the end, counted for little in this tournament because Switzerland got the three points they needed to advance in Indomitable Lions’ stead.

By the end of that day, Africa remained with two representatives in the round of 16.

The first to qualify, Senegal, can still write history by becoming the first African nation to advance to the quarterfinal stage twice.

The current Teranga Lions have repeatedly referred to the success of their 2002 predecessors and will be fired up for this fixture.

“We know Senegal can beat England and that is what we are aiming for. The team has developed and become more mature. African teams are good enough to go toe-to-toe with any team. We are capable of beating anybody,” said Senegal assistant coach Regis Bogaert.

Bogaert, who was speaking on behalf of his head coach Alious Cisse, who has taken ill, added: “We are focused on qualifying for the next round and we will do everything we can to win.”

That will be a daunting task against 1966 champions England on Sunday from 10pm at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, some 45km north of central Doha.

England are unbeaten against African opposition at the World Cup in eight meetings, winning four times. The other results have all ended goalless.

The Three Lions will take confidence from their round of 16 record. They have won five of seven previous fixtures at this stage.

Their only previous knock-out game against an African team was a 3-2 extra-time quarter-final victory against Cameroon in 1990.

England have also scored the most goals thus far in the tournament, nine, with Manchester United's Marcus Rashford helping himself to three and Arsenal's Bukayo Saka to two.

“Beating England will be huge. Our objective is to show we can play against the top five teams in the world,” said Bogaert.

Interestingly, 10 members of the Teranga Lions squad here in Qatar play their club football in England including their captain Kalidou Koulibaly (Chelsea), goalkeeper Edouardo Mendy (Chelsea), key midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye (Everton) and forward Ismaila Sarr (Watford), though he is suspended for this game.

The match will be handled by El Salvador’s Ivan Barton, assisted by his compatriot, David Moran, and Kathryne Nesbitt of the USA.

Winners will play against the team that wins the last 16 match between defending champions France and Poland.

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