African champion Senegal was outplayed by England and given a actuality test because it was eradicated within the final 16 on the World Cup.
Senegal was lacking its finest participant Sadio Mane via damage and was additionally hampered by the absence of different key gamers towards England, however nonetheless held hopes of launching a robust problem in its first World Cup knockout sport in 20 years.
The three-0 loss was a bitter finish to a disappointing marketing campaign for Africa’s top-ranked staff.
-expectations vs performance-
Senegal was rated the perfect staff from Africa to ever go to a World Cup and got here to Qatar with a squad filled with Europe-based expertise. Senegal gained its first main title on the African Cup of Nations in February and that boosted confidence for the World Cup marketing campaign. Matching its run to the quarterfinals on its World Cup debut in 2002 was the goal.
Senegal misplaced its opening group sport 2-0 to the Netherlands however beat host Qatar and a harmful Ecuador staff to achieve the final 16.
However Senegal’s current success has been largely pushed by Mane, his nation’s all-time main scorer. He was dominated out of the World Cup days earlier than it began with a proper leg damage and his absence undoubtedly affected the staff’s probabilities towards England.
Even with out Mane, Senegal was nonetheless anticipated to current a a lot harder problem for 2018 semifinalist England than it did at Al Bayt Stadium on Sunday. The lopsided consequence underscored a big hole that is still between African soccer’s continental match and the World Cup, coach Aliou Cisse mentioned.
“What’s true on the African Cup of Nations is not essentially true on the World Cup due to the caliber of the groups,” Cisse mentioned. “You pay for any mistake that you just make.”
Coach Cisse may very well be the primary to go away. The previous Senegal captain, who memorably led his nation to the quarterfinals as a participant in 2002, is contracted till 2024 however mentioned within the aftermath of the England defeat that he’d should rethink how for much longer he’ll keep.
Cisse has been current for each one in every of Senegal’s three appearances on the World Cup; as captain in 2002 and coach in 2018 and this yr. Senegal was eradicated within the group stage 4 years in the past so Cisse the coach hasn’t managed to repeat the success he had as captain 20 years in the past.
Cisse, who has been Senegal coach for seven years, mentioned after the England sport that he wanted time to “draw the teachings from this defeat.”
Senegal may additionally lose the backbone of its staff earlier than the subsequent World Cup, with captain Kalidou Koulibaly (31 years previous), goalkeeper Edouard Mendy (30), midfielder Idrissa Gueye (33) and Mane (30) all in or approaching their mid-30s in 2026. Mane might effectively nonetheless be round for the subsequent World Cup however 4 years is a very long time to take care of a popularity as one of many sport’s most feared forwards. His damage simply earlier than Qatar meant he missed out on a World Cup whereas at his peak.
Ismaila Sarr is seen because the participant to take Senegal into the longer term. The 24-year-old ahead enhanced his popularity in Qatar by shouldering a lot of the duty up entrance within the absence of Mane. Midfielders Krepin Diatta of Monaco, who’s 23, and Pape Matar Sarr of Tottenham, who’s simply 20, must also emerge as essential gamers.
Senegal’s first focus after the World Cup is to qualify for the African Cup of Nations in 2024 and guarantee it has an opportunity at retaining its title. Qualifying resumes in March and the match in Ivory Coast will give Senegal its subsequent alternative to develop a staff able to doing higher on the most important stage in 2026.
“We have been working arduous to achieve this stage and to be African champions, and now Senegal should proceed working to make sure on the subsequent World Cup we are able to play higher,” Cisse mentioned.