It’s the World Cup quarterfinals everyone’s talking about.
However, there are significant hurdles to overcome first.
Both teams may face lower-ranked opposition in their Round of 16 today, but this is a World Cup that has delivered shocking results.
They may be 13 places below England in the FIFA world rankings, but Senegal have a team packed with talent, even without injured superstar Sadio Mane. “We know we will be favorites in terms of qualifying, but Senegal will be a very dangerous team,” England manager Gareth Southgate said.
“We know a lot of their players who play in the Premier League and across Europe.
Senegal is the pinnacle of African football, ranked highest of any team on the continent and the reigning champions of the prestigious Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
This is their third World Cup final, having also qualified in 2002 when they reached the quarterfinals, and again in 2018 when they were eliminated in the group stage.
BBC Africa’s Babacar Diarra said: “I think the players are inspired by the generation of 2002 with the head coach being former Birmingham and Portsmouth midfielder Aliou Cisse, the goalkeeping coach Tony Sylva and other close ex players.
to the team like Lamine Diatta and El Hadji Diouf.
So, after dedicating the victory in AFCON to his elders, and the victory against Ecuador to Papa Bouba Diop, the first Senegalese goalscorer in a World Cup, exactly two years after his death, we can say that the spirit of 2002 is inspiring this current team.
The qualification for the round of 16 was held on Tuesday for several hours after the game.
Now, there is confidence in the team despite Mane’s injury There are debates about how to play against England and what their weaknesses might be.
” Senegal is a nation that is improving on the world stage with a number of players now playing regularly in the top leagues in the world.
e Europe, including the Premier League.
Chelsea duo Kalidou Koulibaly and Edouard Mendy and Watford’s Ismaila Sarr are among those representing the ‘Lions of Teranga’, while Everton’s Idrissa Gueye will miss the game due to suspension.
Forward of the Bayern of Munich, Mane is not playing either.
He remained in the Senegal squad despite being ruled out of the tournament with a leg injury.
“We know the English.
They play strong and attack well.
They have a great squad.
But Senegal has a chance,” former Senegal international Alassane N’Dour told BBC Sport Africa.
“Many players from Senegal are in the Premier League or the Championship.
We know English football.
“We deserve to be here and play this game.
We have to make sure we don’t go there just to watch them play.
We have to seize our opportunity.
” • Extracted from BBC Sport