Senegal will compete at the 2022 World Cup as one of Africa’s five representatives, and they will have the least amount of previous tournament experience.

The Teranga Lions will be participating in their third World Cup despite the fact that this would be their first time doing so as the current African champions.

Despite this, the West African nation holds a position that is generally unmatched by other countries. Senegal is one of only three teams from the African continent to ever make it to the round of eight at a World Cup, yet they accomplished this feat on their very first appearance at the tournament.

In 2002, they reached the quarterfinals by scoring in all but one of their games and shocking the defending world and European champions, France. In addition, they scored in every game.

In spite of such roaring triumph, Senegal did not qualify for the World Cup in any of the subsequent three editions; their qualification for the World Cup in consecutive years will not occur until 2022.

Disappointment in 2018

Aliou Cisse, who captained the Teranga Lions during their great adventure in 2002 and has been in the dugout for the past seven years, will take the helm of the team as they attempt to put the disappointment of 2018 in the rearview mirror.

Senegal made history by becoming the first team ever to be eliminated from the World Cup based on fair play in Russia. This was a devastating setback for Senegal, but defender Kalidou Koulibaly believes that they have grown as a result of it.

The center-back for Chelsea was quoted as saying to Al Jazeera, “We will not make the same mistake again.”

It’s a pity because we had a terrific generation of players, but we didn’t do as well as we could have in 2018, even though we had more opportunities to succeed. In Qatar, we shall be better off as a result of our participation in 2018.

The Brightest Future For Africa

Additionally, they will be coming in as the champions of Africa, which will give them an added push. Senegal struggled to establish their dominance early on during the January edition of the Africa Cup of Nations. They were placed in a group with Malawi and Zimbabwe, and they made difficult conditions for themselves.

Yet, they reached their full potential during the knockout rounds, and despite the fact that they needed a penalty shootout in the championship game to show it, the Lions were the most deserving team to take home the trophy.

This accomplishment not only provided Senegal with its first taste of silverware, but it also gave legitimacy to the present generation of Senegalese and to the job that Cisse did. And by doing so, they solidified their position as the continent’s most promising contender for a spot in the knockout stage in Qatar.

Mark Gleeson, an expert on African football, was quoted as saying to Al Jazeera, “I think Senegal represent Africa’s greatest hope.” I have high hopes that they will advance to the quarterfinals, but a lot will rely on the opponent that they face in the round of 16. I have no doubt in my mind that they will prevail, and I believe that they will be the only African team to achieve so.

This Anticipation Is Heightened By The Allure Of The Draw

The opening match against the Netherlands will be a difficult test, but the rest of Group A is made up of hosts Qatar, who are making their first appearance at the World Cup, and Ecuador, who were the final team from South America to automatically qualify.

Senegal is currently in the best position to advance because to their high position in the FIFA rankings as well as the overall high quality of their team.

Koulibaly acknowledged that although it may be challenging, the organization is one that welcomes new members.

“Qatar (are) playing at home, the Netherlands are a wonderful football nation – they have good players like Van Dijk, I played a lot against him – and Ecuador demonstrated that they deserved to be here,” he said. “Qatar (are) playing in front of their own fans.”

Sadio Mane, who plays for Bayern Munich and has won the African Footballer of the Year award twice, is without a doubt the most prominent player for the Teranga Lions.

On the other hand, they have players like Edouard Mendy, Idrissa Gueye, Cheikhou Kouyaté, Ismaila Sarr, Abdou Diallo, and Boulaye Dia who have already made a name for themselves in Europe.

A Great Deal Of Anticipation

Since their heroic performance in Cameroon, where they won the title, Senegal’s results have been unimpressive.

They survived a two-legged playoff against Egypt, but only on penalties after an aggregate score of 1-1, and they followed that up with a 3-1 win over Benin despite playing with 10 men, followed by a narrow victory over Rwanda thanks to a penalty kick in the 98th minute.

The results of the team’s friendlies leading up to the World Cup have also given cause for concern. After a straightforward victory against Bolivia, Senegal’s next match was a 1-1 draw with Iran, during which they appeared to lack inventiveness in their offensive play.

This contributes to a more widespread worry. When Mane is restrained, it is frequently difficult to determine the source of the risks that are being taken.

Koulibaly seems unfazed by Senegal’s recent stumbles and is optimistic about the team’s chances in Qatar. He also claims that the Senegalese squad has their sights set on pushing the limits of what is possible at the World Cup.

“I don’t know about the other African teams, but as captain of Senegal we are not going there to achieve the regular ceiling of Africa, which is the quarter-finals,” he said. “We are not going there to reach the normal ceiling of Africa.”

“I have faith that we are capable of competing for the trophy alongside the other nations from the other continents. If our only goal at the World Cup is to compete and then head home after the group stage, then we have no business being there. This is really a defeatist way of looking at things. If you go into the fight with the mindset that you are not capable of winning, then you are doomed to fail.

Senegal will travel to Qatar with the mindset that they will win the tournament, and that aim will not change.

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