The Teranga Lions of Senegal had not always been a force to reckon with in African and World football. However, a golden generation led by French man Bruno Metsu shot to limelight in 2002 as Senegal introduced themselves in incredible fashion. The Teranga Lions finished second at the 2002 AFCON tournament losing the final to Cameroon on penalties but that was not the height of it.
Senegal qualified for their first World Cup competition in 2002 and defeated defending champions France on the opening day. That squad had Aliou Cisse, El Hadj Diouf, Fadiga and Papa Bouba Diop. The Teranga Lions reached the quarter finals in Korea/Japan and lost to Turkey in extra time. They failed to qualify for 2006, 2010, and 2014 competitions before they qualified for the summer showdown in Russia.
The Teranga Lions have been drawn with Japan, Colombia and Poland in a group that a lot of football pundits believe that the Lions can qualify from. In qualifiers, they were drawn with Cape Verde, Burkina Faso and South Africa. In fact, it took a major controversial decision and a rematch against South Africa before Senegal could ensure qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup
The Teranga Lions are being coached by Aliou Cisse, a member of that 2002 golden generation. Cisse was appointed after a lot of political drama and the sacking of Amara Traore. Aliou Cisse has assembled a group of talented individuals who play vital roles for several clubs in Europe. However, it is noted that these players have little experience on the big stage. None of these players have played at a World Cup competition and they have failed to live up to expectations at AFCON games. Hopefully, the experience of Cisse would be enough to motivate the Teranga Lions to repeat what they did in 2002.
Teranga Lions to watch out for
The squad of the Teranga Lions is a highly talented one with players with good European pedigree. Most people would not want to look beyond Sadio Mane, the Liverpool attacker who was the most impressive player at the Champions League final in May. Mane is an attacking threat that scored ten goals in the UEFA Champions League last season.
Other Teranga Lions to watch out for include Kalidou Koulibaly, Mame Diouf, Idrissa Gueye, Moussa Sow and Diafra Sakho. These players play in England, France and Italy with some of them making appearances at the Europa League and the UEFA Champions League. Coach Aliou Cisse had caused some uproar by dropping Everton’s Oumar Niasse from his World Cup squad but the Teranga Lions should be able to do fine without him.
Senegal’s World Cup squad
Abdoulaye Diallo, Khadim Ndiaye, Alfred Gomis, Lamine Gassama, Moussa Wague, Saliou Ciss, Youssouf Sabaly, Kalidou Kalidou, Salif Sane, Cheikhou Kouyate, Kara Mbodji, Idrisa Gana Gueye, Cheikh Ndoye, Alfred Ndiaye, Pape Alioune Ndiaye, Moussa Sow, Moussa Konate, Diafra Sakho, Sadio Mane, Ismaila Sarr, Mame Biram Diouf, Mbaye Niang, Diao Keita Balde
Senegal’s World Cup 2018 fixtures
- Poland: Tuesday, June 19 at 4pm
- Japan: Sunday, June 24 at 4pm
- Colombia: Thursday, June 28 at 3pm