After going undefeated during CAF World Cup qualifying, Senegal will be aiming to repeat the memorable run it made in its only previous FIFA World Cup appearance, back in 2002.
The Lions of Teranga stunned the football world with a 1-0 tournament-opening victory over defending world champion France, and continued their march into the knockout stage with a golden-goal victory over Sweden in the Round of 16 before seeing their Cinderella story end in the quarterfinals with a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Turkey in extra time.
Senegalese football fans will be hoping for more of the same after the Lions enjoyed a favorable World Cup draw that could enable them to avoid facing any World Cup favorites until deep into the knockout stage.
Senegal’s Odds to Win World Cup: +15000
Senegal faces long odds in World Cup betting in its return to the tournament following a 16-year absence, joining Egypt, Iceland and Serbia at a distant +15000. However, fortune smiled on the Lions at the World Cup draw, where they avoided getting grouped with any tournament favorites.
But the Lions will be closely watched in their final three friendlies against Luxembourg, Croatia and Republic of Korea after failing to pick up wins in their past two outings against a pair of non-qualified squads, Uzbekistan and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Senegal’s Odds to Win Group H: +500
While Senegal avoids facing the likes of France during the group stage in its return to World Cup action, it faces long odds not only of finishing atop the Group H table, but also of advancing to the knockout stage.
Pegged as a long +500 wager on the Group H odds, the Lions sit well back of Colombia, which leads the way as a +120 wager to win the group, just ahead of Poland at +175, while Japan lags at +700.
Senegal displayed character while overcoming a 2-0 deficit to earn a 2-2 draw with Colombia in a 2014 friendly that marks their only previous meeting with Los Cafeteros, and will be facing Poland and Japan for the first time. However, the Lions will need to find a way to avoid losing to both Poland and Colombia if they are to pay out on attractive +150 odds of advancing to the knockout stage.
The Lions are listed as +250 underdogs in their group stage matchup with Poland, and also trail as a long +290 wager on the game line odds in their scheduled group stage finale with Colombia.
Senegal’s Best World Cup Bets
In addition to being a +150 bet to advance out of Group H, Senegal sits as a +1000 wager to advance as far as the quarterfinal at the 2018 FIFA World Cup. While a repeat of the heroics of 2002 may be a lot to ask from this squad, a strong group stage performance could enable them to avoid a confrontation with one of the tournament favorites until the quarterfinal.
A finish atop the Group H table would set the stage for a Round of 16 matchup with the second-place finisher in Group G. That group is led by a strong side from Belgium, but also includes perennial World Cup underachievers England and expected also-rans Tunisia and Panama.
Senegal’s Players to Watch: Kalidou Koulibaly, Sadio Mane
The Lions’ stingy defense is anchored by French-born Kalidou Koulibaly. The subject of heightened speculation about a possible transfer to top European powerhouse clubs like Chelsea FC and Barcelona, Koulibaly has played a key role in SSC Napoli’s rise to second place on the Serie A table this season, contributing five goals in 33 appearances.
Koulibaly also played all but six minutes in six World Cup qualifying appearances with the Lions, who have claimed victory in 13 of 14 matches across all competitions with the 26-year-old in the lineup.
Up front, all eyes will be on Sadio Mane, who leads all active players with 51 goals scored with Senegal’s national team. The 26-year-old winger is also enjoying a solid campaign with Liverpool, tallying nine goals in 12 UEFA Champions League contests with the Reds, and adding 10 markers in 27 Premier League contests.
Senegal’s Road to Russia
The Lions clinched their berth at Russia 2018 with an impressive run in CAF World Cup qualifying, allowing just three goals while going undefeated in six matches to finish atop the Group D table. Senegal’s strong performance in World Cup qualifying also coincides with a solid run that has seen the Lions lose just three times in 31 matches across all competitions since October 2015.
|16||Khadim Ndiaye||GK||Horoya AC||25|
|17||Pape Alioune ‘Badou’ Ndiaye||DEF||Stoke City||18|
|5||Idrissa Gana Gueye||MID||Everton||60|
|8||Cheikhou Kouyaté||MID||West Ham United||47|
|11||Cheikh Ndoye||MID||Birmingham City||25|
|9||Mame Biram Diouf||FWD||Stoke City||48|