Head coach: Aliou Cisse
World Cup history: Qualified once
Best: Quarterfinals in 2002
Qualifying route: Topped Group D of African qualifying
The opening match of FIFA World Cup 2002 saw previous edition’s winners France take on newcomers Senegal and almost everyone predicted a straight-forward victory for the European giants. However, Papa Bouba Diop etched his name in history books as he guided his team to a shocking victory and made Senegal overnight sensations in the tournament. They were ultimately eliminated by Denmark in the Round of 16, but the African nation was already the talk of the town.
Things have been topsy turvy for the Senegal football team since then, but the West African side will finally be making a return to the FIFA World Cup in Russia this year. The Teranga Lions, who won four out of their six matches in the qualifiers, booked their spot by defeated South Africa in the final match. With players like Keita Balde and Sadio Mane in their ranks, Senegal are certainly no pushovers and they will be looking to produce a solid run of form under the guidance of coach Aliou Cisse.
Cisse, who lead Senegal in FIFA World Cup 2002, is no stranger to the football extravaganza and he was one of the key players in that legendary team who stood out for their strength and composure.
“We know that all matches will be difficult, and I think that my players have the quality to write some new (chapters in) our footballing (history),” Cisse said after the FIFA World Cup 2018 draw last year.
The strength of Senegal lies in their offensive gameplay and the addition of Moussa Sow to a forward line that includes AS Monaco’s Keita Balde and Liverpool’s Sadio Mane has allowed Cisse to play a 4-3-3 formation with Diafra Sakho providing support to three forwards from the midfield. However, they will have to work on their defensive plans if they want to succeed against Poland and Columbia.
Goalkeepers: Abdoulaye Diallo, Alfred Gomis, Khadim Ndiaye
Defenders: Saliou Ciss, Lamine Gassama, Kalidou Koulibaly, Kara Mbodj, Youssouf Sabaly, Salif Sane, Moussa Wague
Midfielders: Idrissa Gueye, Cheikhou Kouyate, Pape Alioune Ndiaye, Alfred Ndiaye, Cheikh Ndoye, Ismaila Sarr
Forwards: Mame Biram Diouf, Balde Keita, Moussa Konate, Sadio Mane, Mbaye Niang, Diafra Sakho, Moussa Sow