The 2018 World Cup proved to be a shambolic outing for Africa, as no country from the continent managed to make it past the group stages.
The likes of Nigeria, Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia all exited the tournament after just two group games in Russia.
Africa’s hope was then invested into Senegal, with the Lions of Teranga going into their last game full of vigor and confidence.
However, following a 1-0 loss to Columbia, Senegal were also booted out, despite being tied on four points with Japan in Group G.
Below are four reasons why Africa’s last hope got kicked out of the World Cup:
1. Lack of discipline
The main reason why Senegal failed to make is past the group stages was their lack of discipline on the pitch. Aliou Cisse’s side amassed a whopping six yellow cards after their three group games.
And it came back to haunt them after they ended the group level on points and goal difference with Japan.
With nothing to separate both teams, the fair play rule was used, which ultimately went in favour of Japan who had amassed just four yellow cards. Had Senegal been more disciplined, it could have been an entirely different story and would probably have picked their ticket to the knockout stages.
2. Mane’s poor form
Senegal is not a one-man team, but there also no denying of the fact that the team depends very much on Saido Mane.
During the qualifying series, the Liverpool attacker was instrumental throughout as Aliou Cisse’s side sealed a place in Russia. However, he was a pale shadow of himself in all three games that Senegal played at the World Cup.
Despite scoring a goal against Japan in the second group game – one which came under fortuitous circumstances – Mane was poor and could not rise to the occasion when needed. His poor form meant that Senegal lacked inspiration upfront and were subsequently made to pay for it.
3. Failing to beat Japan
Senegal’s exit may have been confirmed after they lost to Columbia, but the fact is that the failed to take control of their fate after that game against Japan.
In what was a must-win encounter, the Lions of Teranga allowed the Asians back in the game after twice taking the lead.
The 2-2 draw with Japan ultimately proved to be Senegal’s undoing in Russia. Had they beaten the Blue Samurai, there would have been no need to ignite the fair play rules, let alone they exiting the tournament.
4. Lack of concentration
Senegal’s win over Poland in their first game clouded many problems that faced the team. Aliou Cisse’s side played with great energy but their concentration was always suspect.
The bane of all the African teams who played at this year’s World Cup was a lack of concentration and Senegal were no different. In all their three games – against Poland, Japan and Columbia – they conceded late goals.
Against Japan, Senegal were lethargic after going 2-1 up, allowing Keisuke Honda to stab home the equalizer with a few minutes to end the game. The story was very much the same when they placed in that group decider against Columbia. At this level, you need to concentrate for 90 minutes. Anything less and you are punished.
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