Sadio Mane of Senegal celebrates a goal with teammates during the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers football match between South Africa and Senegal at Peter Mokaba Stadium, Polokwane on 10 November 2017 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Thursday Nov 30, 2017. 18:30
Ahead of tomorrow’s draw for the 2018 World Cup, AfricanFootball looks at both the best and worst case group stage scenarios for Senegal’s Teranga Lions.
Which pot are Senegal in?
The West Africans are in Pot 3 due to their world ranking position (32) in October, which determined which section of the draw teams were assigned to.
Which teams can they be drawn against?
– One of the teams in Pot 1: Russia, Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland and France
– One of the teams in Pot 2: Spain, Peru, Switzerland, England, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay and Croatia
– One of the following teams in Pot 4: Serbia, Australia, Japan, Panama, South Korea and Saudi Arabia
Which teams can they not be drawn against?
All of the other teams in Pot 3 – Tunisia, Egypt, Denmark, Iceland, Costa Rica, Sweden and Iran – as well as the two Africans teams in Pot 4: Nigeria and Morocco.
What’s their best-case scenario?
From Pot 1, Senegal will want to draw Russia. The 2018 hosts are easily the weakest team in that pool. Short of getting the home side, Belgium and Poland are probably a touch overrated and have traditionally struggled at big tournaments.
From Pot 2 they’ll want to draw Peru, who haven’t been to the World Cup since 1982, or one of England, Switzerland or Croatia – they’re all fine teams, but not as powerful and dangerous as the likes of Spain, Uruguay and Mexico.
From Pot 4 the Teranga Lions will want Panama, who are making their tournament debut, or the lowest ranked team, Saudi Arabia. Though none of the others – Serbia, Australia, Japan and South Korea – are particularly intimidating either.
Summary: Senegal’s dream group stage draw would see them pooled with Russia, Peru and Panama/Saudi Arabia.
And their worst?
As a combination, this is about as bad as it could get for Senegal: South American heavyweights Brazil from Pot 1, 2010 champions Spain from Pot 2 and Serbia from Pot 4. You could swap out Brazil for Argentina and it would be just as tough, or go with Germany from Pot 1 and Colombia or Uruguay from Pot 2. There are plenty of combinations to get African fans nervous.
Summary: A group with Brazil, Spain and Serbia would represent the worst case for the Teranga Lions.