FIFA World cup 2018
Senegal vs Poland
Samara Arena, Russia
Thursday, 28-06-2018 @05:00pm
All of Africa will be on its knees praying that Senegal avoids defeat on Thursday against Colombia to progress to the round of 16 at the 2018 World cup.
With all the other four African nations already eliminated, Senegal remains the only nation from the Africa still at the world cup and defeat to Colombia will see them out too.
All African teams have never failed to make it to the knock out stages of the world cup since the 32 nation format started in France 96.
A scenario similar to this one was witnessed in 2006 when Ghana went into the last game carrying all hopes as the other four African nations had already been eliminated and they defeated the US 2-1 in their final game to progress.
Senegal will have to rely at star player Sadio Mane to inflict the desired damage on the South Americans despite the Liverpool player getting a fair share of criticism from the general public and media already.
“A player like Sadio Mane is a player with a lot of expectations and he is one of the players under the spotlight, said Senegal coach Aliou Cisse ahead of the game.
“He can do better, but [against Japan] he was better than against Poland and he needs to do better against Colombia.
Senegal have no injury or suspension worries going into the game, they used a 4-4-2 formation in the win against Poland but switched to 4-3-3 for the draw with Japan.
Five Senegalese players are one booking away from suspension.
A point will guarantee they reach the last 16 so coach Aliou Cisse may be tempted to field a defensive line-up.
For Colombia, Carlos Sanchez is available for Colombia after serving a one-game suspension.
Fellow midfielder Abel Aguilar was forced off after half an hour against Poland because of an injury and will not be risked. Mateus Uribe replaced him as a substitute and could be promoted to the starting line-up, while goalkeeper David Ospina is fit despite suffering a knock against the Poles.
James Rodriguez and Wilmar Barrios are one booking away from a ban.
“There are so many situations that can make or break a football team, said Colombia head coach Jose Pekerman on Wednesday.
“This is a World Cup. We have to simply forget any quick judgements or prejudices that we might have.
“When I [choose] the starting line-up, I do it taking account of the whole context in which we find ourselves.
Their only previous meeting was a friendly in Buenos Aires prior to the last World Cup in May 2014.
Colombia led 2-0 at half-time through goals from Teofilo Gutierrez and Carlos Bacca but Moussa Kounate and Cheikh Ndoye struck after the break to earn Senegal, who ended the game with 10 men, a 2-2 draw.
Senegal have faced South American opponents just once before in the World Cup, drawing 3-3 in their final group game in 2002 against Uruguay (a game in which they led 3-0).
The Senegalese kept a clean sheet in their first ever World Cup match, against France in 2002, but have not recorded a shut-out in any of their subsequent six games.
They have conceded three goals from just seven shots on target faced at this World Cup.
Moussa Wague, 19, became the first African teenager to score a World Cup goal in the 2-2 draw with Japan.
Senegal are unbeaten in the 15 matches Sadio Mane has scored in (W9, D6).
Los Cafeteros’ first World Cup match against African opposition was a 2-1 loss to Cameroon in extra time in 1990. Since then, they’ve beaten Tunisia (in 1998) and Ivory Coast (in 2014).
They have scored four goals from seven shots on target at the 2018 World Cup, including three from four against Poland.
Colombia’s 3-0 win against the Poles equalled their biggest win at the World Cup (in 2014 they beat Greece 3-0 and Japan 4-1).
James Rodriguez has six goals and four assists in seven World Cup appearances.
The other World cup fixtures on Thursday:
-Japan vs Poland, Volgograd Arena @05:00pm
-England vs Belgium, Kaliningrad Stadium @09:00pm
-Panama vs Tunisia, Mordovia Arena @09:00pm