Looking for a team that is hard not to like and support? Look no further than Senegal! Lead by their captain and West Ham midfielder (sometimes defender) Cheikhou Kouyate, and Liverpool left wing ace Sadio Mane, Senegal are exciting, fast, and worth a shout in what promises to be the best group in the early stages of the World Cup. So, can they represent Africa outside of the group stages? Only time will tell, but the talent and skill is certainly there.
Key Players for Senegal:
Sadio Mane – The main man in Senegal’s attack, look for Liverpool’s brutish and pacey winger Mane to lead the way for his team offensively. Combined on the left side with Diao Keita Balde that duo’s pace will cause problems for opposition. Mane scored 10 goals and added 7 assists in Premier League play last season, and was even more impressive in Champions League matching his 10 goals in just 11 matches. He is a big game player, speed machine and will be the driving force for the Senegalese attack.
Cheikhou Kouyate – The captain of the squad, Kouyate is a versatile player who can fit a need for Senegal, increasing his team value. Should he play in the midfield where he does for West Ham he is a box-to-box midfielder who can hold up play and is an aerial threat. He can make a defensive clearance in one moment and then be winning a header for a goal on the other side of the pitch right after. If he kicks his laziness out of his game he could be a crucial piece for Senegal. BONUS: look for his ever present wrist cast to change colours with Senegal’s kits.
Kalidou Koulibaly – The centre piece of both Senegal and Napoli’s back line, Koulibaly is a boss on the pitch and at only 26 years of age, promises to be a fixture in the Senegalese squad for years to come. At 6’4″ tall and nearly 200lbs he is a beast to deal with and that physical play not only comes in handy defensively, but also offensively helping in securing 5 goals this season. Look for this mountain of a man to lead from the back for Senegal.
Their pool is competitive but does not have any real tournament favourites in it, opening the door for the likable team Senegal to make it the the round of 16. Their attack, while supported heavily by Mane, also features Balde Diao a pacy outside attacker, and a “scores when he wants” striker is Diafra Sakho. Should the midfield of Idrisa Gueye and the Ndaiyes be able to get the ball to their attackers, this is going to be one fun team to watch!