IT will be a huge upset if Senegal beat England as the World Cup reaches the knock-out stage. England have never lost to an African side at a World Cup. However, all is not lost for the ‘Lions of Teranga’ from West Africa. Here are five reasons to give the Senegal side hope.
- ALIOU CISSE: only 46 but a vastly experienced man of football. Knows the English game well from his four seasons with Portsmouth and Birmingham City. Showed his tournament managerial skills when he led Senegal to the AFCON final last year and will be looking to replicate his playing days. By guiding his team into the World Cup Quarter Finals.
- EDOUARD MENDY: the Chelsea stopper was awarded the golden glove at AFCON only at the beginning of this year. He will need to reproduce fine saves again to keep out England’s Premier League heavy attack. Mendy’s frame fills the goal and is great at saving penalties. The 6’4 keeper saved a spot kick to help his country get to the World Cup against Egypt in the qualifiers in February.
- KALIDOU KOULIBALY: Mendy’s Chelsea team-mate is one of the best central defenders in the world right now. His defensive solidity alongside goal-scoring presence from set-pieces helped Senegal get over the line in their last group match against Ecuador. The West African side run out 1-2 winners breaking the hurts of the South American side.
- ISMAILA SARR: A player with plenty of experience playing up against all of England’s players from his time in the Premier League with Watford. Ismalia Sarr has done well filling the giant shoes of injured Sadio Mane. His pace and direct dribbling style of taking on players rewarded him with a well taken penalty against Ecuador.
- BIG MATCH PEDIGREE: If the Senegalese were to pull off heroics against England, we could witness a World Cup upset as big as their 2002 World Cup opening game win against then holders France. The African side won by the only goal of the game to earn a result that shocked the world. Senegal rose to the occasion at the turn of the year at AFCON too when they defeated Mohammed Salah’s Egypt in the Final.