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2022 World Cup: Southgate wary of Mane-less Senegal - 'Teranga Lions have become very strong'

10:13 GMT+3 04/12/2022
England manager Gareth Southgate is wary of the threat Senegal pose to his team, saying they are even stronger without influential forward Sadio Mane.
  • England have never lost against African opposition
  • Southgate wary of Mane-less Senegal
  • Winner could face France in quarter-finals

WHAT HAPPENED: By virtue of finishing top of Group B, England set a date with Senegal who finished behind the Netherlands in Group A.

The Lions of Teranga had come into the tournament without their influential forward Sadio Mane who was injured on the eve of the competition while on club duty.

While the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations champions started with a loss against the Dutch before wins against Qatar and Ecuador, the Three Lions collected maximum points from Iran and Wales with their only draw coming against the USA.

On paper, the European nation comes into the match as favourites, but Southgate insists it is not the case, and even without Mane, the Lions of Teranga have grown stronger.

WHAT HE SAID: "Sadio is obviously an incredible player, and every team would want to have him," Southgate said as quoted by The Standard.

"But what we have seen from the team of Senegal, they have become very strong in his absence. And they have shown great spirit through losing him.

"We have been very impressed [with Senegal]. We know that they’re African champions, very proud, great competitive spirit, and a lot of belief in the team. With some excellent individual players who cause problems, with a good structure to the team as well."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: England are unbeaten in seven meetings against African nations, conceding only three times in those games—two against Cameroon in 1990 and in the 2-1 success over Tunisia four years ago. They have kept five clean sheets in those seven games.

Nevertheless, Senegal will fancy their chances of making history considering the shock results that the ongoing World Cup has witnessed.

DO YOU KNOW: Senegal will be without their influential midfielder Idrissa Gueye who is suspended after receiving two yellow cards in the competition.

WHAT NEXT: If they manage to go through, Senegal might play France - who are scheduled to face Poland, in the last eight.