We don’t know about you, but ever since the draws were announced, World Cup fever has taken hold here at DailyFantasyUK. There’s no holding us back! We’re launching straight into another Get to Know. Now that we’ve explored the countries embarking on their first ever World Cup, it’s time to consider the teams who are returning after a significant hiatus.
This African nation has only appeared in one previous World Cup, but they did not disappoint. In 2002 they provided one of the biggest shocks of the competition when they beat defending champions France. This was in their opening game, no less! Given the entertainment they provided, it’s a shame we’ve had to wait 16 years for them to return to a World Cup.
We’re very excited to re-acquaint ourselves with… Senegal!
Location: West Africa, shares borders with Mauritania, Mali, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and The Gambia.
Capital City: Dakar
Official Language: French
Famous for: Hospitality (they even have their own word for it: ‘teranga’) and a rich musical culture.
Fun Fact: They love their sheep. Seriously. Their farmyard friends get names, frequent baths and even live in the house! (They do eventually sacrifice them in religious ceremonies, but we’ll skip that bit…)
Road to the World Cup
OK, let’s get down to the good stuff. Senegal actually topped their qualifying group, beating strong teams like Cape Verde and South Africa. The process wasn’t hitch-free, though. In fact, their match against South Africa had to be replayed after the referee received a lifetime ban for fixing matches. This worked in Senegal’s favour, as they flipped what was initially a loss to a win. As you might imagine, their opponents weren’t thrilled about this. Here’s all the goals they totted up in the qualifiers:
Players to Watch
We probably don’t need to tell you to keep an eye on this guy—he’s one of the best players in the world. In his club career he plays for Liverpool and was recently named their Player of the Year. He’s an accomplished winger known for scoring a lot of goals. The only thing dampening Mané’s prospects is that he’s been plagued by injuries this season, so his fitness levels are questionable. Aside from that, this pick is a no-brainer really!
Sometimes hailed as the new Mario Balotelli (though thankfully not as volatile), Niang is an impressive young forward. Born in France, he played for their youth teams for most of his international career. However, luckily for Senegal, he decided to switch allegiance to the country from which his family originates. This is a recent move—his first appearance for Senegal was a World Cup Qualifier against Cape Verde. As a newcomer, it will be interesting to see how he gels with the team over time. He’s an experienced player at club level (currently on loan from Milan to Torino) so shouldn’t have too much trouble getting to grips with a new squad. Certainly one to watch!
Another recognisable face from the Premier League, Kouyaté plays central midfield (but can switch to defence) for West Ham. He’s also the captain of the Senegal team, so he’s in charge of rallying the squad to make their mark on the competition like they did in 2002. Obviously an experienced player, his recent performances for his club have angered fans, so he’s not necessarily a safe bet. Captaining your country in the World Cup is a great honour, though, so we imagine he’ll bring his A game.
Our final pick for Senegal is nifty striker Moussa Sow. He likes to score in style and is famous for his numerous bicycle kick goals. Another player born in France but representing his parents’ homeland, we hope Sow will bring his energy and flair to the World Cup next summer.
Manager: Aliou Cissé
FIFA Ranking: 23
What They Have Going for Them
- Despite not managing to qualify for the last few World Cups, Senegal are currently the highest-ranked African team. As we’ve covered, they also have some world class players with extensive international experience. They shouldn’t have too much trouble selecting a strong squad!
- They’ve already proven that they can excel in big competitions, having reached the quarter finals in their first ever World Cup in 2002. This shows they’re not daunted by the pressure of the world stage. Who knows how far they’ll get second time around!
Although their group includes some tough teams, we reckon Senegal have a good chance of advancing to the knock-out stage. Either way, they’re sure to bring the entertainment factor. Given what happened in 2002, we’re excited to see how they’ll kick things off. Bonne chance!
Considering we’ve only touched on the less experienced teams so far, Russia 2018 is shaping up to be an exciting and unpredictable competition. Before picking your wild cards, make sure you’ve read up on the prospects of newbies like Panama and Iceland. The World Cup is also a great excuse to get your friends involved in fantasy sport. Let them know about the opportunities to win big and make sure you train them to avoid the DFS sharks. It’ll be fun for everyone involved!
To keep up to date with all the news and tips surrounding DFS, make sure to check in with DailyFantasyUK!