Twenty years on from captaining his nation of their debut expertise of the World Cup, which included beautiful France and Sweden in an intoxicating run to the quarter-finals, Aliou Cisse desires to guide Senegal to historical past once more – this time in his capability as supervisor.
Topped Africa Cup of Nations champions for the primary time in February, the Teranga Lions certified for that match and this one unbeaten.
They’re the continent’s strongest, most constant, and full staff for an age, a by-product of the distinctive Cisse being in situ since 2015 making a concrete identification.
Earlier than that, he was an assistant coach, and you may stretch again to the 2012 London Olympics to see the muse of this Senegal development.
One other marker of the staff is the talent of overcoming adversity collectively.
Senegal had been eradicated from the 2018 World Cup on the premise of yellow playing cards and had been dropping finalists within the following yr’s AFCON. These close to misses have steeled them with their response to grow to be extra targeted on sport administration and management.
A squad that includes probably the greatest goalkeepers and defenders in world soccer in addition to loads of European expertise and youthful promise, Senegal have dealt with Sadio Mane’s gutting injury-enforced absence properly.
Ismaila Sarr, Boulaye Dia and Iliman Ndiaye have mixed properly in assault and whereas Cisse has largely opted for a 4-3-3, the supervisor is tactically fluid along with his staff capable of adapt with out a lot fuss.
As El Hadji Diouf, the star of Senegal’s 2002 classic and a part of Cisse’s shut counsel, stated: “In the event you see our squad, we have now Edouard Mendy, we have now Kalidou Koulibaly, we have now numerous good gamers in England. Some play within the Championship however they’re actually Premier League-quality gamers, like Ismaïla Sarr. It is for them to point out how good they’re.”
Senegal, who navigated a difficult group with Netherlands and Ecuador, are a deep elevation in high quality to what England have confronted in Qatar. They’re snug in possession, critically harmful on the counter, can take up stress, and are tactically versatile. Cisse has instilled a fearlessness within the staff and a perception that noticeably bursts out of his gamers.
“We’re Senegal, we worry nobody,” Koulibaly stated after his first worldwide objective sealed second place in Group A.
“Senegal are higher after they have their backs in opposition to the wall. There are numerous groups that do not need to play in opposition to us.”
Idrissa Gana Gueye, suspended in opposition to England, added: “The final 16 will not be the target. We see past that. Now we have no limits. Now we have to maintain our toes on the bottom, not get carried away, and keep targeted from the begin to the tip.
“Now we have a squad to go far. We’re not going to repair any limits as a result of if we play like we did in opposition to Ecuador we are able to do one thing actually attention-grabbing on this competitors.”
England have been warned.
Senegal scouting report – Can they shock England?
Senegal have alternated between profitable and never profitable of their six World Cup conferences with European opponents, dropping 2-0 in opposition to Netherlands of their most up-to-date sport.
For that sequence to proceed, England must exit the match on Sunday.
Courtesy of beating Qatar and Ecuador within the group levels, the Lions of Teranga have gained consecutive World Cup matches for the primary time – however might they summon the spirit of 2002 to trigger one other upset?
“Senegal are the African champions for a purpose,” Komugisha tells Sky Sports activities. “They’ll go into the sport in opposition to England with numerous duty on their shoulders. They perceive they’re developing in opposition to a really well-oiled England staff who’re hungry for achievement.
“When you might have a staff that has Trent Alexander-Arnold coming off the bench and with followers attempting to persuade Gareth Southgate to start out Phil Foden, we’re speaking about high quality. Senegal have gamers who’ve expertise of enjoying on the highest stage.
“The goalkeeper Edouard Mendy has had a tricky season with Chelsea, after all, with Kepa Arrizabalaga being first alternative till very near the World Cup. Towards the Netherlands, he had a poor sport and was arguably at fault for each targets.
“However he redeemed himself in opposition to Qatar and performed an important function in opposition to Ecuador to assist take Senegal to the final 16 for the primary time since 2002. He’s nonetheless a senior member in that facet and he brings numerous expertise alongside Kalidou Koulibaly.
“Koulibaly had by no means scored for Senegal however then produced a striker’s objective in opposition to Ecuador. I used to be questioning what he was doing in that place! After all, in opposition to England they are going to be underdogs however Aliou Cisse was the captain as a participant of the staff that received to the quarter-finals in 2002.
“He’s the primary African coach to take Senegal to 2 World Cups and I bear in mind seeing him at full-time after the sport in opposition to Ecuador, and he knelt down, seemed within the sky and punched the air. He then received up shortly and folded his jacket and headed down the tunnel.
“It confirmed that for him, Senegal have solely simply received began. Sure, we are able to have fun however we have now numerous work to do. I can guarantee you that particularly with out Sadio Mane, his absence has united them greater than ever.
“They need to do that for him and so they need to do that for his or her individuals in February, the streets of Dakar had been packed. I might by no means seen a parade like that so that you noticed what it meant for them. 2022 has been a particular yr for Senegal.
“What higher solution to announce themselves on the world stage than to defeat England.”
How does this Senegal evaluate to the Class of ’02?
They’ve overwhelmed the defending champions earlier than in France again in 2002. Nobody anticipated that as they had been this new staff from Arica enjoying within the opening sport.
“I bear in mind the face of Emmanuel Petit that day,” stated Komugisha. “The staff in 2002 had been legendary. You must return to 1990 with Cameroon and Roger Milla, or Nigeria’s staff of 1994 at USA to speak about such a spirited staff.
“With Cameroon in 1990, there isn’t a staff who might presumably eclipse them because it was a complete shock. Cameroonians consider Milla is their finest participant ever to grace a soccer pitch – it doesn’t matter what Samuel Eto’o has achieved. For Senegal followers, there isn’t a comparability with the Golden Technology of 2002.
“The present staff has completed one thing that no different group of gamers have completed from Senegal in profitable the Africa Cup of Nations. They need to be revered, however when it comes to how they’re seen, the 2002 staff actually is particular.
“After all, Cisse is a part of each. He’s like an older brother for these gamers. Regardless that Mendy and Koulibaly are a lot taller than him, you watch them look down when he speaks and hearken to his each phrase.
“They perceive that there’s a entire new era that’s wanting as much as them. I bear in mind speaking to Sadio Mane a few months in the past, and he instructed me that he was in awe of the 2002 staff – how a lot he needed to emulate the likes of El Hadji Diouf.
“There’s a duty on this staff – and it isn’t nearly reaching the quarter-finals. It is a couple of nation who’s hungry for achievement. It is a continent that desires to make an announcement. Africa solely have 5 slots on the World Cup finals out of 54 international locations.
“It is essential that the African champions beat England.”
Sarr shoulders burden of Mane absence
“When it comes to filling Sadio Mane’s place, Ismaila Sarr is enjoying the identical function. He’s a dynamic participant who will nonetheless play if Mane was enjoying, however now the load of expectation is admittedly on him. He has to regulate to the best way that the coach desires to play, nevertheless it additionally is dependent upon the opponent.
“Towards England, a facet that’s quick and places numerous stress on defenders, it will be very attention-grabbing to see how Cisse units up his staff. Cisse was a defender by commerce so he’ll arrange his facet to restrict probabilities conceded.
“The lack of Idrissa Gueye in midfield shall be felt. He’s a giant participant for Senegal and it complicates issues as he comes with Premier League expertise. He performs for Everton however he is performed with the likes of Lionel Messi at PSG. He is somebody who is aware of the way to learn the sport, and make tackles.
“For Senegal, he’s additionally somebody who creates, so it is a large blow.”
How Ndiaye went from non-league to World Cup
Sky Sports activities’ Nick Wright:
Iliman Ndiaye was adamant. There was to be no back-up plan. Each request to contemplate an alternate was met with the identical response: “I will be knowledgeable footballer.”
Ndiaye was a youngster enjoying in non-league on the time. The truth is, he had not even had a membership earlier than an opportunity encounter following his transfer to England from Senegal led him to enrol in Boreham Wooden’s academy, a month after they’d confirmed their annual consumption.
However his ambition even then was unshakeable. “From day one, I’ve to verify the gamers perceive there is a plan B if plan A, turning into a footballer, would not work out,” Cameron Mawer, the previous head of Boreham Wooden’s academy, tells Sky Sports activities.
“We all know the odds, so the place are you going to take your life if it would not occur for you?”
After three years in Boreham Wooden’s academy, and following unsuccessful trials with a string of golf equipment together with Southampton and Chelsea, Ndiaye lastly received his break with Sheffield United in 2019. Now, simply three years later, he’s making ready to face England with Senegal within the final 16 of the World Cup.
The boy with no back-up plan didn’t want one in any case, his ambition to make it in soccer lengthy fulfilled. However that is nonetheless solely the start. Iliman Ndiaye, of Sheffield United and Senegal by way of France and Boreham Wooden, could quickly have extra new admirers so as to add to a rising listing.
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Observe England vs Senegal reside on Sky Sports activities digital platforms on Sunday; kick-off 7pm