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Senegal World Cup: How the Group H teams fared

08:10 GMT+3 28/03/2018
Senegal, Mbaye Niang against South Africa tracks the performance of Senegal and all the opposition they will face in Group H in the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia

The Senegal Football Association promised to provide the national team with everything necessary to ensure a positive campaign at the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia, as the Teranga Lions are placing their house in order for their second appearance at the competition following an inspiring debut in 2002 when they reached the quarterfinals.

According to many local fans, the opposition Senegal will confront in Group H appear not to be spectacular teams that could stop the West Africans from progressing to the knockout stage. Coach Aliou Cisse believes the contrary, and he has warned his charges to brace for three different styles of football in the group – the European, the Asian and the South American - which could make life very difficult at the tournament.     

Senegal 0 v 0 Bosnia and Herzegovina

After a 1-1 draw in Friday’s exhibition match against Uzbekistan, Senegal recorded another stalemate on Tuesday, this time it was goalless. The Teranga Lions lacked organisation almost throughout the encounter, especially in midfield, where they kept losing valuable balls needed for construction while the Bosnians focused on playing out the likes of Sadio Mane and Mame Biram Diouf.

At the back, Kalidou Koulibaly and Co. were on top of their game, preventing Edin Dzeko and Miralem Pjanic from causing any havoc to Senegal. Coach Aliou Cisse’s team had a good test mostly in defence, which would likely build confidence going forward. The attacking line displayed pace and creativity like against Uzbekistan days ago but wasted goalscoring opportunities as well. However, the midfield still lacks depth and quality suitable for a strong Fifa World Cup showing.

Poland 3 v 2 South Korea

The 1-0 defeat to Nigeria on Friday was probably a wakeup call for Poland, who raised the bar against South Korea on Tuesday. Robert Lewandowski opened the scoring by the 32nd minute after several futile attempts. Kamil Grosicki made it 2-0 for the White and Reds, who proved more determined, by their character on the pitch.

However, the Koreans took matters into their hands in the second half and maintained the push, scoring two goals in two minutes (85th and 87th) by Chang-Min Lee and Hee-Chan Hwang. Although Piotr Zielinski claimed the winning goal for Poland late in the game, South Korea’s second half impact exposed some weaknesses in the Polish team which Senegal could take note of.

Australia 0 v 0 Colombia

After being walloped 4-1 by Norway on Friday, Australia weren’t going to allow another cheap defeat four days after. They were up to the task against Colombia, who struggled to find their rhythm due to the relentless marking from the Socceroos. Senegal should take note. The long ball strategy wasn’t working, and the Australians kept cutting them off.

However, Colombia did a good job across both halves in keeping their team safe from conceding a goal despite Australia’s determination on the day. What Senegal need to watch out for is Colombia’s style of defending, which involves most of the midfielders falling back as quickly as possible to help clear any danger. Could that be exploited?  

Ukraine 2 v 1 Japan

An own goal by Naomichi Ueda compounded issues for Japan as early as the 21st minute while Ukraine were dictating the pace of the early exchanges. The Samurai Blue gradually recovered from their slumber thanks to their ability to hold the ball and keep it among themselves as long as possible even while in their own half.

Tomoaki Makino’s 41st minute equaliser for Japan brought some balance but Ukraine’s superior physical posture made it hard for the Asians to compete, mostly in the air. Alexander Karavaev eventually snatched the winner for Ukraine, whose strength and aerial ball abilities are factors Senegal must find a solution for.