England's to battle with Senegal to be crowned World Cup's Lion Kings
England prepare for battle with Senegal to be World Cup lion kings: From ‘coolest coach’ Aliou Cisse who lost family in ‘Africa’s Titanic’, to star player Koulibaly, who has pizza named after him, everything you need to know about the ‘Lions of Teranga’
- England’s World Cup campaign continues with knockout game against Senegal
- West Africans known as the ‘Lions of Teranga’ and will be hoping for historic win
- They have ‘coolest coach’ in the tournament who was praised by Snoop Dogg
- And their star defender, who plays for Chelsea, is revered by one Italian city
- Click here for the latest World Cup 2022 news, fixtures, live action and results
England’s World Cup will continue with a winner takes all clash against Senegal after the Three Lions blew Wales away with a convincing 3-0 victory last night.
And there will be more than just pride at stake when the Battle of the Lions kicks off this Sunday.
England’s reward for topping Group B following victory over Wales last night will be a last-16 knock-out tie with the squad known as the ‘Lions of Teranga’.
The West African side – ranked 18 in the world, one position above Wales – will start the match as underdogs against Gareth Southgate’s men, but they are not without pedigree.
Senegal stunned the world by defeating the-then reigning champions, and former colonisers, France in their 2002 campaign as they hope to take another high-profile scalp this time around.
They also boast the ‘coolest coach’ of the competition who bravely battled through adversity when 11 of his family were killed in a ferry disaster in 2002.
The runners up of Group A are currently enjoying the fruits of a ‘golden generation’ of international stars, with many of their best players plying their trade in top leagues across Europe.
Here, MailOnline details all you need to know about the Three Lions’ next opponent:
Senegal have been well supported throughout the tournament, with their passionate fans daubing themselves in green, red and yellow paint – the colours of their national flag – to roar the squad on
The ‘Lions of Teranga’ also boast the coolest coach of the competition who bravely battled through adversity when 11 of his family were killed in a ferry disaster in 2002
Senegal will be hoping their experienced Premier League players, including winger Ismaila Sarr (left) and captain Kalidou Koulibaly can fire them to victory over England
Everton midfielder Idrissa Gueye (pictured) will be marshalling the midfield against England and will be well accustomed to facing off against his fellow Premier League foes
The ‘Lions of Teranga’ will be fired up and hoping to replicate the high-pressure blueprint used by the Americans when they forced England into a drab 0-0 draw – hoping they can use their pacy strikers to nick a goal at the other end.
They have been well supported throughout the tournament, with their passionate fans often daubing themselves in green, red and yellow paint – the colours of their national flag – to roar the squad on.
England will also have to be wary of Senegal’s proud history of overperforming as underdogs in the World Cup.
It was 20 years ago that the West African side staged one of the greatest upsets in footballing history, as the unfancied World Cup debutants defeated then-reigning champions France in the opening match of the 2002 tournament.
They made it to the quarter-finals with a team of relative unknowns, such as El Hadji Diouf, Salif Diao and Papa Bouba Diop, all of whom would soon find themselves playing in the Premier League.
Their captain at that tournament, defender Aliou Cisse, now manages the national team and is known for his dogged tenacity having turned out in the Premier League and for French giants PSG in his playing days.
Aliou Cisse’s exceptional bravery was revealed after a devastating maritime disaster in 2002 that saw 11 members of his family killed when in a ferry disaster dubbed ‘Africa’s Titanic’
11 of Cisse’s relatives, including his sister, boarded the doomed MV Le Joola (above) that was bound for Dakar on September 26, 2002. More than 1,800 died in what became the second-worst peacetime nautical disaster in history
Cisse is a cool character who has delighted fans while patrolling the sidelines with his impressive dreadlocks sneaking out from under his cap – with his luscious locks even earning praise from rapper Snoop Dogg.
But Cisse’s exceptional bravery was revealed to the world after a devastating maritime disaster in 2002 that saw 11 members of his family killed when in a ferry disaster dubbed ‘Africa’s Titanic’.
He had been gearing up for a Premier League match against Newcastle United when his relatives boarded the doomed MV Le Joola bound for Dakar on September 26, 2002.
What else is there to know about Senegal off the football pitch?
Away from football, one of Senegal’s most famous exports is the singer and rapper Akon.
The 49-year-old burst onto the global pop scene in the mid-2000s with ‘Lonely’ – which sampled Bobby Vinton’s ‘Mr Lonely’ – and later enjoyed chart success with singles including ‘Smack That’ and ‘Locked Up’.
French is listed as Senegal’s official language, though the most widely spoken is Wolof.
Its top export is gold, and its capital, Dakar, is the end point for the annual desert rally.
England will be hoping the Lions of Teranga – without talisman striker Sadio Mane through injury – reach the conclusion of their World Cup journey this Sunday.
The ship had been docked for a year for essential maintenance repairs, and had only returned to operation a fortnight before the fatal crossing took place.
Le Joola had an official capacity of 536 passengers, but more than 1,800 boarded and ultimately died when it capsized and sank off the coast of The Gambia amid a heavy storm.
Later inquiries found the vessel had been unbalanced due to poor ballasting and overcrowding.
To make matters worse, Le Joola was not equipped with lifeboats or life jackets and their inadequate radio system ensured no rescue call ever went out.
Just 64 survivors remained and more than 440 children died on what became the second-worst peacetime nautical disaster in history.
Rather than be submerged in his grief, Cisse did not tell his new teammates at Birmingham City FC until after they had played both Newcastle and West Ham a week later.
Explaining how he did not wish to ‘betray his state of mind’ to his new teammates, the steely defender instead rushed back to Dakar to be with his family after the West Ham match.
Speaking publicly for the first time since the accident 20 years prior, he told BBC Sport Africa of his loss: ‘It was a very difficult time.
‘My family really needed me, so I couldn’t be weak – they needed my presence. These were complicated days in a man’s life.
‘We must simply remember our dead and all those families decimated from the fathers down to the grandchildren.’
The entire Senegalese squad will be hoping to channel the resolute temperament of their inspiring coach, after losing their star striker before the World Cup even began.
Their top player, Sadio Mane, cemented his place as one of the world’s deadliest strikers as he helped Liverpool to both domestic and European glory during his six years at the club.
But the Bayern Munich forward and African Player of the Year devastatingly missed out on this year’s World Cup after picking up a knee injury just weeks before the tournament began.
Although they’re missing their talismanic striker, Senegal still have an array of dangerous players who will be well aware of their English counterparts.
In Mane’s stead, captain and new Chelsea defender Kalidou Koulibaly has stepped up and delivered performances that have helped surge the West African squad into the knockout stages.
The centre back, who is known for his tough-tackling and physical presence, was born in France to Senegalese parents, where he grew up playing football barefoot in the street with friends and relatives.
Koulibably’s father worked in a Senegalese textile mill seven days a week for five years so he could save up enough money to move to France. With dual-French eligibility, the defender was capped multiple times for the French U20 team before formally declaring for Senegal in 2015.
Senegal captain and new Chelsea defender Kalidou Koulibaly has stepped up and delivered performances that have helped surge the West African squad into the knockout stages
He will be supported by tricky winger Ismaïla Sarr, who played in the top division with Watford
Everton midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye is pictured above with his wife, Pauline
Senegal’s shotstopper Edouard Mendy plays for Chelsea and will be hoping to keep England’s strikers at bay
Edouard Mendy is pictured soaking up the sun in Los Angeles, USA
His club career saw him play in both France and Belgium before settling in at Napoli in 2014, where he forged a hugely successful career and was named an honourary citizen of Naples.
His presence in the Italian side’s defensive line for more than eight years earned him huge praise from the Neapolitans, leading to one local entrepreneur, Simone Ferrante, to name a black olive, crumbled walnut and parmesan flaked pizza after him.
Koulibaly will be supported by Premier League stalwarts Idrissa Gueye, Cheikhou Kouyaté and tricky winger Ismaïla Sarr, who played in the top division with Watford.
He’ll also be working to protect the goal of his Chelsea compatriot Edouard Mendy, who had been the West London side’s goalkeeper until the start of the 2022 season.
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