Senegal’s Lions out to seal last-16 berth against Japan
3 weeks ago, 11:49
Moscow Chronicles, by Jacob Icia
Senegal could become the first African country to book a spot in the round of 16 of the ongoing World Cup in Russia, with win against Japan on Sunday evening.
The Lions of Teranga are roaring with purpose after their 2-1 opening victory over Poland, head coach Aliou Cisse saying his charges are calm ahead of the Ekaterinburg showdown, slated for 6:00pm Kenyan time.
Cisse told journalists the Poland victory, the top seeded team in the Group ‘H’ injected more adrenaline to the hungry lions which he expects to manifest in the Japan’s clash.
“We are not too euphoric over the first win, but of course it means a lot. We were very prepared for Poland, we knew the systems they could approach us with and our response was right anytime they tried a new thing.
“The same preparation is necessary for Japan, we have to question everything in the same way,” said Cisse, the celebrated captain of Senegal’s 2002 squad that reached World Cup quarter- finals under French man Bruo Metsu.
Cisse revealed his team had done proper homework on how to shut dreaded Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski in the Poland match, and defensive discipline worked.
Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibally contained the former Borussia Dortmund man with ease, and could be in a similar assignment on Sunday evening against Shinji Kagawa.
Kagawa, whose experience in the game paid dividends in their opener 2-1 win against Colombia, has lethal partners in Dortmund’s Yuya Osako who netted the second and Leicester City’s Shinji Okazaki.
The trio will need a solid backline for Cisse to avoid conceding, Mousa Wague and Yousouf Sabaly of Belgium’s Eupen and Bordeaux standing the candidates for the job alongside Koulibally.
Notably, Cisse opted to play Liverpool sensation Sadio Mane deeper in the midfield, advancing to attack rarely, a tactic that could be discarded against Japan if he means more attacking.
Having declared that his team is playing not only for Dakar but for the rest of Africa, Cisse has his work clear cut as the multiple Asian champions lurk.
A win for either sides will propel them to the last 16, while Poland seek a fresh start in against Colombia in the other duel of the pool at the Kazan Arena, from 9:00pm Kenyan time.