Can the Lions of Teranga roar?

African giants Senegal are set to face Colombia tonight in a match that will determine their fate at the Russia World Cup.

28 June 2018 | Sports

So far the 2018 Fifa World Cup has been devastating for African nations, after four of the continent's teams were eliminated from the tournament.

Nigeria blew a chance of reaching the round of 16 on Tuesday after losing 2-1 to Argentina in a dramatic game.

Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco have also suffered early exists from the global showpiece.

This leaves Senegal as the only African team that has a chance of reaching the round of 16.

Affectionately known as the Lions of Teranga, Senegal have a daunting task ahead of them when they come up against a rejuvenated Colombia side today.

There is much to play for in group, given that Japan, Colombia and Senegal all have a chance of qualifying for the round of 16.

Japan goes into their match against Poland on four points, while Senegal enters their final match on four points and Colombia currently have three points in Group H.

Although a draw for the African nation could be enough, they will still have to contain a Colombia side that put three past Poland with no reply in their second game.

There is also no guarantee that Poland will be able to beat Japan with enough goals, which could see the Senegalese qualifying on goal difference even if they lose to Colombia tonight.

The likes of James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao are eager for Colombia to reach the round of 16, just like they did in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Senegal on the other hand are eager to repeat their 2002 World Cup exploits, which saw them reaching the quarterfinals of the tournament.

The hopes of the African nation lie on the shoulders of Liverpool striker Sadio Mane, who is expected to lead his side into the last 16.

The Senegal coaching staff must be aware by now that African nations have been on the receiving end of late goals in their matches, and it is up to them to avoid this against Colombia.

The only black coach in the tournament, Aliou Cissé, is well aware of what is at stake and will therefore have to sharpen his defence in order to avoid conceding simple goals against Colombia.

“A player like Sadio Mane is a player with a lot of expectations and he is one of the players under the spotlight. He can do better, but today he was better than against Poland and he needs to do better against Colombia,” Cisse told AFP news agency recently.

Namibian fans are also hoping that the Lions of Teranga can pull of an historic World Cup upset.

“We all hope for something special to happen because Senegal is our last African hope.

“Colombia will not be an easy team to beat because they have top footballers,” Donavan van Wyk said.

Footballer Eslin Kamuhanga also expressed his concern about the experience in the Senegal team and on the coaching bench.

He felt it is going to be a very difficult game for the African nation against a Colombian team who can be ruthless when given the chance.

“I have played in tough games where all was at stake, and I can assure you that so many things go into your mind at that time.

“I can clearly sense what is going on in the minds of many of these players tonight.

“I wish that Senegal will be able to do it for Africa in a stylish manner,” Kamuhanga said.

Jesse Jackson Kauraisa

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