Senegal will kickoff their Group A Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup against he Netherlands on Monday.
In Al Thumama, Qatar, the game will begin at 4 PM GMT, exactly 24 hours after the hosts’ opening play against Ecuador on Sunday.
Sadio Mane of Bayern Munich has been ruled out of the World Cup owing to a fibula injury he suffered earlier this month against Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga, dealing Senegal a severe blow before the tournament has even started.
The Lions of Teranga’s head coach, Aliou Cisse, had anticipated that the problem would just prevent his star player from participating in the first one or two games, but Cisse will now need to modify his tactical strategy to deal with the absence of the former Liverpool player.
Senegal’s first-ever Africa Cup of Nations victory and qualification for Qatar were both secured by Mane’s two game-winning penalties against Egypt earlier this year.
Mane’s absence in attack leaves only Ismaila Sarr and Famara Diedhiou with double digits of goals scored (10 each) for their respective national teams.
Although Cisse’s team has kept six clean sheets in their past eight competitive games, which has proven to be the foundation of their recent AFCON win and World Cup qualification, Cisse’s team is typically difficult to break down.
As they attempt to advance to the knockout rounds for just the second time in their history, the 46-year-old will almost surely be aiming for his men to keep things tight against Netherlands before moving on to more winnable matches against Qatar and Ecuador.
Meanwhile, the Netherlands are entering the World Cup in great shape under the leadership of Louis van Gaal after making it to their second consecutive UEFA Nations League final.
Although the legitimacy of the young competition is frequently questioned, all three of Oranje’s opponents in Group 4 – Belgium, Poland, and Wales – will take part in the upcoming World Cup, making their point total of 16 from six games seem even more impressive than it initially appears to be.
Senegal Starting XI:
E Mendy, Koulibaly, Cisse, Gueye, N Mendy, Kouyate, Dia, Diatta, Sarr, Sabaly, Diallo.
Netherlands Starting XI:
Noppert, De Ligt, Van Dijk, Ake, Bergwijn, Gakpo, Berghuis, Blind, Janssen, De Jong, Dumfries.