FT World Cup 2018: Africa Has Arrived - Senegal
In the history of the FIFA World Cup, no African team has ever reached the semi-finals. Ghana was agonizingly close in South Africa 2010 but crashed out after Luis Suarez’s heroics in goal, in place for a goalkeeper who was still in the game. Senegal’s Lions of Teranga had a great run in the 2002 finals before losing to Turkey, 1-0 after extra time. Can this year be a historical one for Africa?
What about the Senegalese in Group H? Will they repeat the heroics of 2002 under the mentorship of Aliou Cisse who was actually part of the South Korea and Japan 2002 squad or maybe even go further? My answer is yes, a very big YES! The Lions of Teranga do not play the most fluid of football but can be a neatly organized defensive unit comprising of the English Premier League’s second-best tackler, Idrissa Gueye and the mountain man, Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly leading the defense. They are also blessed with clinical attackers in the form of Diafra Sakho, Monaco’s Keita Balde and the X-factor, Sadio Mane. Most soccer fans witnessed what he did in the UEFA Champions League against Real Madrid. The Liverpool forward took the game in his hands after Mohamed Salah was forced out with an unfortunate early injury, and he scored a beautiful goal that gave the Reds some short-lived hope of lifting the trophy and consistently caused Sergio Ramos and his defense all sorts of problems until the 90th minute.
I am confident that Sadio Mane will step up as he always does and inspire Senegal to a win over lowly ranked Japan, an inexperienced Poland and maybe just fall short to unpredictable Colombia. It may be a bit of a gamble to endorse Senegal's chances so strongly, but i have a feeling that they will be a strong representative for the African continent. Sadio Mane is perhaps enough of an inspiring player that has provided the quality and lends evidence to consider Senegal doing the unexpected. It is a group centered around three star players in particular; Liverpool’s Sadio Mane vs Bayern Munich’s James Rodriguez vs Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski.. No offense to Japan.
Here are my predictions for Group H final standings:
Senegal (1st); Colombia (2nd); Poland (3rd); Japan (4th)
What are your predictions? Let us know in the comment box below.