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Can Senegal Do It For Africa?

Last updated: June 28, 2018 by Leon Marshal

Game details

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Kick-off: Thursday, 15:00pm
Venue: Samara Arena
Coverage: BBC 1
Home Team Form: DLWWD
Away Team Form: WDDWW
Last Meeting: Colombia 2 – 2 Senegal
Competition: FIFA World Cup

With Rojo’s late goal against Nigeria on Tuesday, Senegal are now the last African team in the World Cup. Despite being the second most populous continent in the world, they have yet to produce a team that has progressed further than the quarter-finals. If Senegal fail to progress here, then this will be the worst performance from the continent since 1986.

This gives their final fixture in the group, against a resurgent Colombia, all that more added pressure. Here it is not only a matter of national pride, but of continental one. With plans to expand the tournament to 48 teams in future tournaments, an African claim to more places in the roster needs to be backed up by better performances. With no teams in the knockout, this will only signal that African football simply isn’t good enough.

To beat Colombia will take a lot of discipline and a strong defensive shape. While Colombia were poor in a surprise loss to Japan, their bounce back against Poland shows that they are a team containing some lethal firepower. The attacking trio of Falcao, Rodriguez and Cuadrado have a unique combination of pace, spatial awareness and ball control that will cause Senegal problems. They need to win the midfield battle, with crucial players such as Gueyye and N’Diaye having to step up to slow the game down and shield the defence. Then when they have the ball, they need to move it quickly to key striker Sadio Mané. With possibly only one or two chances to score, he simply cannot afford to miss.

In theory Senegal could progress on goal difference if they lose by less goals than Japan, but Poland don’t seem capable of scoring one goal, let alone enough to cause a freak accident. They will have to push for at least a draw. Yet, as the Nigeria game shows – trying to defend all game against a determined and super-fast South American side is almost impossible, especially in the dying hours of the game. Colombia will play a high pressing game, trying to turn the ball over quickly and get it to the feet of Rodriguez and Falcao. Expect them to score here.

Colombia can get ahead with a draw, but only if Poland win, something the Japanese will be determined not to let happen. This combination of strange factors could lead to an unsaid agreement between the two teams to play for a point, but this is only likely to happen if Poland suddenly go two goals up. In all other cases, this should be a tooth and nail fight to the finish.

Will it be heartbreak for Africa or elation for Colombia? My heart says the former, but the smart money is on the South Americans. Colombia to win. This time isn’t for Africa.

Team News

Coach Aliou Cisse needs Mané to improve if they are to win. As he says regarding his performance in the Japan game: “he needs to do better against Colombia.”

Defender Kalidou Koulibaly feels no pressure being the last African team, stating: “We know the whole continent is supporting us, it is highly positive, we are football players and know we have Senegalese people behind us, we have to end with flying colours and do our utmost to get into the round of 16.”

Colombia are also feeling the pressure considering how well they did four years ago. Defender Davinson Sanchez states that “our job has an extra moment of difficulty because of the minimum details that can expose us.”

Abel Aguilar won’t be starting for Colombia during this game due to a thigh injury he picked up in the Poland game.

Expected Line-Ups:

Senegal (4-3-3): K N’Diaye; Sabaly, Koulibaly, Sane, Wague; A N’Diaye, Gueye, Ndiaye; Mane, Niang, Sarr
Subs: Diallo, Mbengue, Kara, Sow, Kouyaté, Diouf, N’Doye, Konaté, Sakho, Keita, Gassama, Gomis
Not available:
Colombia (4-3-3): Ospina; Mojica, Sanchez, Mina, Arias; Uribe, Barrios, Quintero; Rodriguez, Falcao, Cuadrado
Subs: Zapata, Murillo, Bacca, Vargas, Muriel, Lerma, Díaz, Borja, Izquierdo, Jo Cuadrado
Injured: Aguilar
Not available:

Head to Head

Last Competitive Meeting Between The Sides
Date Game Result Round First Goal-scorer
31/05/2014 Colombia 2 – 2 Senegal International Friendly Gutierrez 12′

Conclusion & Betting Tips

As both teams are likely to commit in this game, we expect a few goals to fly around. That’s why we are tipping Colombia to Win and Both Teams to score at odds of 11/4. If you think that Senegal might nick it, however, then there are whopping odds of both teams to score and Senegal to win at 13/2. Check out these odds at William Hill.