FIFA World Cup: Senegal opens World Cup campaign with defeat for the first time

Diacounda Sene – AIPS Member

DAKAR, November 21, 2022 – History did not repeat itself today (November 21) for the national team of Senegal. The third opening match of the Lions of Teranga at a World Cup did not end with a victory, as it was the case in 2002 against France (1-0) and in 2018 against Poland (2-1).

The match between the Netherlands and Senegal in Group A ended in a victory for the Dutch (2-0), after a hard-fought match in the Thumama stadium – two goals from Cody Gakpo in the 84th minute and Davy Klaassen in extra time (90+9).

It was obvious that the entry of the Senegalese team to this Qatar World Cup would not be easy. Deprived of its leader and best striker Sadio Mané, the Senegalese team could not count on the injured Fodé Balo Touré either. This unexpected situation forced Coach Aliou Cissé to make adjustments to fill the void left by these essential players.

Senegal goalkeeper Edouard Mendy during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 group A match between Senegal and Netherlands at Al Thumama Stadium on November 21, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. ANP MAURICE VAN STONE (Photo by ANP via Getty Images)

With a formation of 4 defenders, 3 midfielders and 3 strikers, Senegal played a lively game during the first half. However, the team did not score a goal against a very fast Dutch team. On several occasions, the team coached by Louis Van Gaal was threatening in the first half. Present in ball possession, the Dutch showed from the first 45 minutes that they wanted it.

On the other hand, the Senegalese players responded as the African champions that they are and led their opponent in terms of play. Aliou Cissé’s men also had several missed opportunities. The team will be weakened by the exit of Abdou Diallo and Cheikhou Kouyate due to injury in the 62nd and 72nd.  Despite introduction of Ismail Jacobs, who was a doubt until the eve of the match, Bamba Dieng and Pape Gueye, the Senegalese team could not maintain its starting rhythm.

They were then surprised in the 84th minute by Cody Gakpo who took advantage of a missed clearance by Senegalese goalkeeper Edouard Mendy to open the scoring. And while the Senegalese players were organising themselves to get an equalizer before the end of the match, came the second Dutch goal by Klaassen.

The current African champion lost its first match despite a good performance. Senegal will face Qatar on Friday, a team that also lost its first match of the World Cup against Ecuador (0-2).

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