Senegal to celebrate 2018 qualification

Senegal to celebrate 2018 qualification
Diafra Sakho of Senegal challenged by Clayton Daniels of South Africa during the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers football match between South Africa and Senegal at Peter Mokaba Stadium, Polokwane on 10 November 2017 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Monday Nov 13, 2017. 09:30

Senegal will look to wrap up their already successful 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign in style when they host South Africa for their final Group D match in Dakar on Tuesday.

The clash will be staged at the Stade Leopold Sedar Senghor, with kick-off set for 21h30 CAT.

The Teranga Lions - and Dakar in general - will be in a celebratory mood following the team’s qualification for the Russia 2018 finals. The West Africans claimed a deserved 2-0 triumph in Polokwane on Friday night to mathematically guarantee top spot and secure passage to their second World Cup.

An early strike from Diafra Sakho and an own goal from Thamsanqa Mkhize saw Senegal claim victory in a replayed match: the original game from November last year (which SA won 2-1) was annulled due to the involvement of disgraced referee Joseph Lamptey.

"It's a moment of satisfaction, especially for a group I've been training for two years,” said coach Aliou Cisse, a member of Senegal’s World Cup debutantes in 2002, in the wake of the match.

“Satisfaction also for my people who have always been behind this team there, even in difficult times. I also congratulate my staff. It is a pride to see this generation enter the history of Senegalese football.”

He added, “When we came here [South Africa] we needed two points. One point, it was good too. And three points, it's just beautiful.

“But I never doubted that my team could qualify here. I will never forget what happened in the first game here.

“For the second game, it was important to show that we were a great team and we had great players. Today, we have demonstrated to the whole world and to all Africa that Senegal is one of the best African teams."

South Africa may be out of the running for the 2018 finals, but coach Stuart Baxter believes they need to field a strong side for this return match in Dakar and look to lift themselves off the foot of Group D.

"I want to look at the log first and see. Do we have a chance to be better than we are? If that's the case we'll play our strong side and try to win the game,” said the Bafana coach.

“I don't think we had a lack of effort from the players. I may give a chance to a few lads who work very hard and haven't had a game [time]. It's a dead-rubber. It's about pride for the shirt and pride for the results of the country. So we will go and do the best we can.”

South Africa can lift themselves off the bottom of the group if they win in Dakar and they can go as high a second - depending on goal difference - if the other Group D match between Burkina Faso and Cape Verde ends in a draw.

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