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World Cup 2018: Out of Africa – Senegal

PACE: Sadio Mané

Population: 16.2 million
FIFA World Ranking: 28th

Did you know...?
Senegal has as many as 36 listed languages. Wolof is the most common but French, adopted in the colonial era, is the of cial tongue.

World Cup appearances
Senegal qualified for the first time in 2002 where they were agonisingly dumped out in the quarter finals by a Turkish golden goal after being unbeaten through the group stages. Bruno Metsu’s side executed a shock 1-0 win over defending world champions France in their opening game.

Star Player: Sadio Mané
The 26-year-old Liverpool winger has made waves in recent seasons and is undoubtedly Senegal’s strongest hope for goals. His lightning pace and eye for goal makes him a terrifying prospect for any full back on the international scene. Mane has netted 19 times this season including a memorable hat-trick against Porto in the Champions League. But his undoubted quality shines through in his team play, adding seven assists on top of his sharp finishing. Senegal will be hoping he can improve his international impact this summer as he has bagged only 14 goals for his country in 49 games.

Player to Watch: Cheikhou Kouyaté
Cheikhou Kouyaté’s club form was less than sparkling. In the league for West Ham this season scored just twice and been a miserly provider of three assists. However, he is the current Senegalese captain and was an integral part of their unbeaten qualifying run in Africa Group D. At 28, his experience, composure and range of passing will be crucial to Senegal’s hopes of progressing out of a wide open Group H, featuring Poland, Japan and Colombia. If Kouyaté can peak when his country needs him most the Lions of Teranga will be roaring on the world stage once more.

Manager: Aliou Cissé
Aliou Cissé is a legend of Senegalese football. A former player, he captained the 2002 World Cup side who defeated France and Sweden to reach the quarter finals. Cissé’s experience of international success no doubt helped him in leading his country to a second World Cup finals. Cissé had a troubled club career plagued by a poor disciplinary record and a transfer to Portsmouth shrouded in controversy over corruption. But with Cissé’s proven leadership skills, and the most impressive roster of footballing talent in country’s history, Senegalese hopes, and expectations, of repeating 2002’s success are high.

Stay tuned for the rest of our World Cup special feature. Tomorrow we profile another African country competing in football's biggest tournament.

Read the rest of our profiles of the African teams competing in Russia and all of our 2018 World Cup coverage here

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