After 16 years away from the World Cup, Senegal will return to the biggest stage in football. Ranked 23rd in the world by FIFA, the Lions of Terranga successfully qualified for their second ever World Cup Finals. Their first appearance came at the 2002 tournament, when they were placed in a very tough group A. They were asked to play the opening match against the holders France. It was a daunting first match to say the least. So how will the Senegal World Cup campaign go this year?
Back in 2002, France were not only the reigning world champions, they were also the reigning European champions. They were ranked number one in the world. And their squad had remained generally unchanged from that of the 1998 World Cup. This was the team of Marcel Desailly, Thierry Henry, and Zinadine Zidane.
Senegal were meant to be easy opponents. But in the 30th minute, Senegal stunned the world by taking the lead. It was a lead that they wouldn’t give up, and so began a historic run through to the quarter finals. They became only the second African nation (after Cameroon) to reach the last eight of the World Cup. Their current coach—Aliou Cissé—was captain of the side during Senegal’s glorious run in 2002. Because of this, his appointment was a popular one. It seems to have been a wise choice as well, given the success which his team has enjoyed so far under his command. Much of this success is being credited to his influence.
Fifa Ranking: 23
Tournament Best: Quarter Finals 2002
Serbia World Cup Appearances: 12
Senegal World Cup – Road to Russia
The Lions of Terranga faced a tough qualification campaign in Group D of the African World Cup Qualifiers. The group consisted of Senegal, Burkina Faso, the Cape Verde Islands, and South Africa.
Senegal performed well throughout the campaign, topping the group comfortably. They were unbeaten throughout, and only had two draws (against Burkina Faso). In all bar one of their matches, Senegal scored two goals, proving their offensive capabilities.
They did have some luck on their side, however, amidst a controversial first match against South Africa. South Africa were awarded a penalty which allowed them to take the lead and ultimately win the match.
FIFA stepped in though, when it was clear that there had been no handball. The referee—Joseph Lamptey—was found guilty of match manipulation and banned from football for life. The match was ordered to be replayed.
In the replay, Kara Mbodji scored the winning goal in stoppage time. His blazing header finished off a glorious qualifying campaign and sent Senegal to the World Cup finals for the second time.
Senegal World Cup Schedule
Senegal were drawn in group H for the final tournament. They will face off against Poland, Colombia, and Japan. It is the only group not to include a team that has previously won the World Cup.
Poland are clear favourites to top the group. Robert Lewandowski scored sixteen goals in his ten appearances during the World Cup qualifiers.
But there will be no easy matches in this group as all four teams have clear ability. Colombia will be looking to improve on their repeat their performance at Brazil 2014 and reach at least the quarter finals again. With talent like James Rodriguez, it is difficult to say that won’t happen.
Though their qualification was certainly a little easier, Japan should by no means be underestimated. They progressed to the round of 16 twice in the last four tournaments. The Samurai Blues will present a very different challenge to the flair of Colombia or the pace of Poland. But they will still present a big challenge for Senegal.
Senegal World Cup – Key Players
Though Senegal’s current success is undoubtedly due to a general team effort, and teamwork, the undoubted star of the team is Sadio Mané. He has played for Liverpool since moving there in 2016 for a whopping £34 million. This made him the most expensive African player ever at that time.
Renowned for his pace and strength, Mané brings a dangerous force to the wing. For Liverpool he has averaged at just less than one goal in every two games. He has also netted fourteen times for his country.
Also providing offensive power for the team is Diafra Sakho. Before moving to Rennes this year, he played his football for West Ham and so might be a familiar face for Premier League fans.
He has proved he is in winning form recently. He scored on his debut for Rennes, and scored two goals during Senegal’s World Cup qualifiers. Given the difficulty of their World Cup group, his offensive talents will be essential if Senegal are to have any hope of progressing.
Senegal World Cup Odds
Senegal are understandably considered outsiders for the title. Though they impressed at the 2002 tournament, they have not competed since then. Because of this, you can currently get good odds against them raising the trophy.
A more reasonable bet may be the Best African Team at the World Cup Finals. There are five African nations competing at Russia 2018: Senegal, Egypt, Nigeria, Morocco, and Tunisia.
Senegal are favourites for this, with Nigeria and Egypt joint second in the eyes of the bookies. are offering 2/1 against Senegal being the best African team. They are also offering new customers up to £50 in free bets if they make a bet of at least £10.
188bet and BetVictor are also offering 2/1* against Senegal. Both are offering £20 in free bets to new customers who deposit and then bet at least £10. As always, all terms and conditions apply for these welcome offers. Please bet responsibly.
Senegal World Cup Recommended Bets
|2018 World Cup||Senegal Win||200/1*|
|2018 World Cup||Senegal Win||200/1*|
|2018 World Cup||Senegal Win||150/1*|
*Odds at the time of writing. Subject to change.