Must-win clash for Senegal

Must-win clash for Senegal
Edouard Mendy of Senegal reacts during the FIFA World Cup 2022 group A soccer match between Senegal and the Netherlands at Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar, 21 November 2022. EPA/Abedin Taherkenareh

by Graeme Jackson

Thursday Nov 24, 2022. 11:00

Senegal face a must-win clash in the 2022 World Cup when they tackle Group A rivals and tournament hosts Qatar at the Al Thumama Stadium on Friday 25 November, kick-off at 3pm CAT.

The West Africans got their campaign off to a disappointing start by losing 2-0 against the Netherlands on Monday. Goalkeeper Edouard Mendy was at fault for both goals as the Oranje triumphed thanks to late strikes from Cody Gakpo and Davy Klaassen.

Senegal coach Aliou Cisse was left to reflect on his side’s inability to capitalise on their chances, but felt they still deserved more from the match.

“It was a very high level match with intensity,” said Cisse. Now it’s up to us to prepare for the second game. Maybe I’m the culprit because I’m the coach. When we lose we say it’s the coach. “Football is about efficiency, when you don’t score you can’t win. We will work on it.”

He added, “The fact of having lost this match can motivate us, everything was not bad, it is up to us to rectify.

“The second is anecdotal purpose. We are disappointed, the boys gave a lot and we deserved at least one point in this match.”

As for Qatar, they also succumbed 2-0 in their opener, being outclassed by Ecuador in the tournament’s opening match on Sunday. The Maroon will need a quick turn around if they are to avoid becoming just the second host nation to be eliminated in the first round (alongside South Africa in 2010).

“Truth be told, I have enough work to do to take a look at it,” said coach Felix Sanchez, who admitted the opening loss was a “terrible start”.

He added, “We felt backed and supported and we hope for the next game, people will feel prouder and keep supporting us to the end of the tournament. The atmosphere was great, people were very much looking forward to this game.

“We knew [a defeat] could happen and the result can sometimes be difficult. We will try to learn from [the loss to Ecuador] and I’m completely sure we will make people feel more happy with our performance.”

In head-to-head stats, this will be the first meeting between Senegal and World Cup debutants Qatar. The Teranga Lions have had just one World Cup match against Asian opposition, a 2-2 draw with Japan at Russia 2018.

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