Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions are through to the knockout stages of the FIFA World Cup and will face a challenging test against Senegal in the round of 16.
England have enjoyed an excellent start to their Qatar 2022 campaign and finished top of the group with seven points. They also scored an impressive nine goals from their opening three games - making it the team’s highest ever goal tally in a World Cup group stage.
Southgate will have a number of selection dilemmas heading into the fixture and the former Middlesbrough boss will have to choose from a number of inform players including Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka, Jack Grealish, Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling in the wide areas.
It is England’s first meeting with African opposition in a knockout game since Bobby Robson’s side met Cameroon 32 years ago. On that occasion England were pushed all the way and secured a narrow 3-2 victory in the Italia 90 quarter-final.
Senegal are expected to be England’s toughest test so far in the tournament - they are the reigning African champions and they are aiming to equal their best ever World Cup finish by reaching the quarter-final stage.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Senegal national team and their coach Aliou Cisse.
Senegal’s World Cup campaign so far
Senegal were drawn in Group A alongside Netherlands, Ecuador and World Cup hosts Qatar. Aliou Cisse’s side entered the tournament as second favourites to progress from the group stage and were narrowly ahead of South American side Ecuador.
Senegal have a strong team and they were viewed as many peoples’ dark horses for the tournament before a ball was kicked. However, they were handed a huge blow in the build up to the tournament after an injury to starman Sadio Mane.
The former Liverpool forward is a key member of the Senegal set up. Mane is the country’s all time leading goalscorer with 34 goals from 93 appearances - he was the African Cup of Nations player of the tournament in 2021 and he scored the winning penalty for Senegal in the final against Egypt.
Senegal named Chelsea defender Kalidou Koulibaly as their captain whilst they also have team mate Edouard Mendy in goal. Watford star Ismaila Sarr regularly leads the line for the Lions of Teranga and Everton midfielder Idriss Gueye patrols the midfield.
The Group Stage
Senegal began the tournament with a challenging test against Netherlands who are managed by veteran head coach Louis Van Gaal.
Van Gaal previously led the Netherlands to a semi-final place in 2014 and named a strong team for the tournament opener including Cody Gakpo, Frenkie de Jong and Virgil Van Dijk. Senegal fought hard but struggled to find the creative spark in attack and fell to a late 2-0 opening day defeat.
The West African side needed a response in their second game and overcame host nation Qatar with a 3-1 victory, setting up a decisive final match against Ecuador.
Senegal entered the game against Ecuador knowing that anything less than a victory would see them exit the tournament in the group stage for a second consecutive tournament. Meanwhile Ecuador needed just a point to secure their place in the round of 16.
Cisse’s side produced a strong performance against Ecuador and edged them out in a tight contest to secure a 2-1 victory. Chelsea centre back and Senegal captain Kalidou Koulibaly scored the all important winner for his side with his first ever international goal.
What is Senegal’s record in previous World Cup tournaments
Senegal are competing on the world stage for just the third time in their history - their previous two tournaments came in 2002 and 2018.
Senegal were one of the stories of the tournament back in 2002 and reached the quarter-finals for the first time in their history. During the group stage they overcame the reigning world champions France with a narrow 1-0 victory in one of the great World Cup upsets.
Senegal finished second from their group alongside Denmark and finished above the likes of Uruguay and France to progress to the knockout stage. They followed that up with a 2-1 victory over Sweden and narrowly missed out on a semi-final after a 1-0 defeat to Turkey in the quarter-final.
The 2002 tournament was a breakout year for a number of Senegalese football stars including El Hadji Diouf, Henri Camara and Papa Bouba Diop who all earned Premier League moves after the tournament.
Despite producing a number of talented players such as Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse - Senegal failed to qualify for the World Cup for 16 years.
The West African side secured qualification in 2018 and competed in the World Cup in Russia. Senegal were drawn in Group H alongside Colombia, Japan and Poland.
Senegal were very competitive throughout the tournament in Russia and they picked up one win, one draw and one defeat over the course of the tournament. Group H proved to be one of the most tightly contested groups in World Cup history and Senegal became the first team in history to be eliminated through the fair play rule.
What is Senegal’s FIFA ranking?
Senegal are currently ranked 18th in FIFA’s World Rankings. This makes Senegal the highest ranked African team in the continent.
Their opponents England are currently ranked 5th in the FIFA Rankings and tournament favourites Brazil are currently ranked 1st.
Who is Senegal’s manager?
Aliou Cisse has been the manager of the Senegal national team since 2015.
Cisse received a total of 35 caps for Senegal as a player and was captain of the team which went all the way to the World Cup quarter-finals in 2002. Cisse also led Senegal to their first ever African Cup of Nations final that same year but narrowly missed out on glory after a penalty shootout defeat to Cameroon.
Cisse has successfully translated his leadership into his managerial career and the 46-year-old has enjoyed unprecedented success at Senegal since becoming manager. Cisse led Senegal to African Cup of Nations glory in 2021 - becoming the first ever manager to win a trophy for his country.