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2022 FIFA World Cup Team Previews: Senegal

Senegal
(Photo by Charly Triballeau / AFP)

2022 FIFA World Cup Team Previews: Senegal

The 2022 FIFA World Cup is less than a month away from kicking off in Qatar. Over the next 32 days, I will be previewing each team that will be taking part in the world’s most-watched event. Check out all of the team previews that have been done so far. Up next is Senegal.

Senegal was one of the most successful teams this calendar year and that was capped off by winning the 2021 African Cup of Nations that took place in January 2022. The “Lions of Teranga” defeated Egypt on penalties to win their first AFCON title. They have lost twice in their last nine matches. They’re the highest-ranked African team in the FIFA men’s rankings; they’re #18, and have potential. They could make a run to the quarterfinals or further. 

World Cup Appearances

By beating Egypt, once again on penalties in CAF qualifying, Senegal qualified for the 2022 World Cup, making it two consecutive World Cup appearances for the “Lions of Teranga”. Four years ago they went out in the group stage winning just one match. This will be the third World Cup appearance for Senegal, along with the 2002 and 2018 World Cups.

Best Finish at a World Cup

Senegal took the world by storm in the 2002 World Cup by upsetting the reigning World Cup champions France 1-0 in the tournament’s opening match. In the group stage, Senegal finished second behind Denmark, advancing to the Round of 16. They beat Sweden 2-1 in sudden death extra time. In the quarterfinals, they fell to Turkey 1-0 in sudden death extra time.

Key players

Some of the best players in the world star for a strong Senegalese side. This includes Bayern Munich’s Sadio Mané, who just finished second in Ballon d’Or voting this week, Chelsea’s Kalidou Koulibaly, and Everton’s Idrissa Gueye. Gueye and Mane are second and third respectively in total appearances for Senegal, and Gueye (96 caps) is set to tie Henri Camara for the most appearances in Senegalese history, with 99 at the 2022 World Cup.

Mane is also the country’s leading goalscorer with 34 goals. Koulibaly is a rock in defense and captains the “Lions of Teranga” for the first time in a World Cup. The big question for Senegal is the play of goalkeeper Édouard Mendy. He has not played in any of Chelsea’s last 10 matches. FIFA’s goalkeeper of the year in 2021 may come into the 2022 World Cup with very little game time in recent months. However, he’s more than capable of returning to his high level of play.

Manager

Aliou Cissé has been the manager of Senegal since 2015. He led them to glory for the first time in the African Cup of Nations. He was named coach of the year by the CAF, and now has a record of 100-26-17. As a player, Cissé captained the Senegal team in the 2002 World Cup.

Biggest Group Game – vs The Netherlands on November 21

Senegal kick off their 2022 World Cup campaign against the favorites in Group A, the Netherlands. A win or draw would be massive for a confident Senegal team that has its eyes on the knockout stage. In their two previous World Cups, Senegal came out and won their first group-stage match, and look to keep that trend going against an inexperienced Dutch team.

Prediction

As good as Senegal could be, the Netherlands is just a bit stronger all around, and that will be shown in the first match. After that, Senegal should beat both Ecuador and Qatar to advance back to the knockout stage. Finishing second in the group would set the “Lions of Teranga” up with a Round of 16 match against the winner of Group B, likely England. Sadly for them, this is where their 2022 World Cup campaign will come to an end.

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