In a tournament full of surprises, Senegal will try to enter the underdogs in the round of 16 on Sunday (4), when they face England, who have never lost to an African team.
For Senegal to manage this surprise, perhaps they will not be able to count on their inspirational leader and coach Aliou Cissé, who has been sidelined by illness.
In addition to the challenge, the African champions will definitely be without their general Idrissa Gueye, who is suspended for the match at Al Bayt after picking up a second yellow card against Ecuador in their last group stage match.
“He [Cissé] he has been sick for a few days and left us in charge of training yesterday, obviously with his instructions,” assistant coach Regis Bogaert told reporters on Saturday (3).
“We hope that tomorrow he can come and be on the bench with the players, but we are sure that at 10 pm he will be there with the team”, he added.
Although African teams have lost eight of their nine World Cup knockout games against European teams, Cissé was there for Africa’s only success in 2002, when Senegal beat Sweden to reach the quarter-finals of that World Cup.
“When he speaks, he uses data and his own experiences,” Bogaert said. “He was part of that great team in 2002 and I think the team really trusts him because of that experience he had as a player.”
“Beating England would be a tremendous achievement, I don’t know how important it would be compared to the 2002 victory, which was also important. If we can beat a team like England it will send a very strong message about the progress we’ve made.”
Cissé has been in charge of Senegal since 2015 and has guided the Teranga Lions to several unprecedented successes, including their first African Cup of Nations title this year.
Bogaert explained that Senegal had done their homework and paid particular attention to set pieces, a part of the game in which England have been particularly dangerous in recent years.
“We identified a few things, and the most important thing is that set pieces can be decisive in these top games,” said Bogaert. “We also hope to take advantage of set pieces.”
“Our strategy is implemented”, he guaranteed.
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Translated to english by RJ983
From Brazil, by EBC News