Published: Mon, June 25, 2018
Sport | By Tony Jimenez

Senegal back in action, England on brink of qualification

Senegal back in action, England on brink of qualification

Poland and Colombia round off the second round of group matches in the late game in Kazan (kick-off 1900 GMT), both knowing they dare not lose if the want to retain any realistic hope of progressing.

Carlos Sanchez of Colombia is sent off by referee Damir Skomina in their match against Japan.

Aliou Cisse, the man who leads the Senegal team, has generated quite a buzz on social media, where he has drawn comparisons to superhero Black Panther and praise for his cool and his moves.

Senegal boss Aliou Cisse chose to put three up front for the match at Ekaterinburg Arena, his team's first against an Asian opponent at a World Cup.

However, some pundits argue that it is not due to prejudice; citing the example of Ghana is one of Africa's giants in football, who could not make it to Russian Federation 2018 with an indigenous coach in charge of their team - The Black Stars.

"In the national team there is no drama, we have all spoken quietly, recognising that we lost a game that we should have won, but now we have to look ahead and take this forward".

If they can replicate this against Senegal, the Teranga Lions could struggle and they'll need to mark the opposition midfielders tightly to deny them time on the ball. "But we treat Colombia as a whole team, even if they have such a great player".

Despite Falcao and 10-man Colombia's best efforts, Yuya Osako's 73rd-minute victor sealed Japan's first win over a South American country, and exacted revenge for their 4-1 thumping by Colombia four years ago. Senegal can wrap up their passage to the knockout stages by getting the better of Japan, but it won't be an easy game.

That would be a first for Japan - the farthest they have advanced at a World Cup was the last 16 in 2002 and 2010.

"We always hope that he can score, that he can be fit as he was today".

Ndongo Ndiaye, a former basketball player and now an adviser to Senegal President Macky Sall, told The Times at the team's base in Kaluga, south of Moscow: "Everyone here is talking about this tweet, it has made headlines in Senegal too. If we have to defend, and that means then we're going to win, then we defend". Japan coach Akira Nishino said he plans to hound the star striker out of the game and is prepared to put three men on Mane if necessary. According to FIFA, Japan are ranked 61st in the world, well below Senegal (27), Colombia (16) and Poland (8). We play with a lot of responsibility and a lot of dedication and so forth, but these things shouldn't be said lightly. Without Sanchez partnering with Abel Aguilar in defence, Los Cafeteros face an uphill task of having to beat Poland who, after having been beaten convincingly by Senegal, will be desperate to notch a win of their own.

The team also broke out multiple dances after defeating Poland in their first game of the tournament, and it is also almost impossible to watch without cracking a smile.

The second half was just as exciting as the first.

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