WORLD CUP 2018

Senegal need Mane magic against resurgent Colombia

Senegal players during a training session outside the Cosmos Arena in Samara, Russia, on June 27, 2018.
Senegal players during a training session outside the Cosmos Arena in Samara, Russia, on June 27, 2018. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SAMARA • Senegal must cut out the defensive errors and find a way to get Sadio Mane firing like he does for Liverpool if they are to tame Colombia today and reach the World Cup last 16.

Coach Aliou Cisse was critical of his pacy and powerful side after their 2-2 draw with Japan on Sunday, saying their opponents were the better team, and called on forward Mane to step it up.

"Frankly, we were not very good," admitted Cisse, who was particularly unhappy with the way that Senegal twice threw away the lead.

Victory would have all but propelled Senegal into the last 16, but they now face a Colombia side in Samara who have their tails up following a classy 3-0 win over Poland.

Going into the final round of games in Group H, Japan and Senegal have four points, Colombia have three and Poland - with no points - are already eliminated. It means that a draw for Senegal will be enough to progress.

Cisse, who needs to find a way to get Mane more involved, was unimpressed by the way the forward was peripheral after scoring the opener against Japan.

"A player like Sadio Mane is a player with a lot of expectations and he is one of the players under the spotlight," he said.

"He can do better, and he needs to do better against Colombia."

If there was something of a negative vibe around Senegal, Colombia are going in the opposite direction.

They became the first South American side to lose to an Asian one at a World Cup when they were beaten 2-1 by Japan in their opener.

But there were mitigating circumstances - they played most of the game with 10 men after Carlos Sanchez was sent off for handball.

Colombia coach Jose Pekerman was also unable to call on the services of the injured James Rodriguez from the start.

But the midfielder, one of the stars of the World Cup four years ago, returned against the Poles with an impressive performance.

Radamel Falcao, Yerry Mina and Juan Cuadrado all scored in a stylish victory, but Pekerman hinted that Colombia should not get their hopes too high just yet.

"We have to be at our best to beat an extraordinary team... Senegal are getting better and better and they'll be playing with the confidence of having four points from their opening two matches," the Argentinian said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2018, with the headline 'Senegal need Mane magic against resurgent Colombia'. Print Edition | Subscribe