Senegal’s defeat of hosts, Qatar, 2-0 on Friday redeemed the battered image of African countries playing in World Cup currently going on in Qatar. It’s Africa’s first win at the Mundial.
Senegal had lost their first match 0-2 against Netherlands in their opening game, putting a slur in hopes that Africa would pull off a surprise in the 2022 tournament.
Bookmakers had predicted that the West African country would go far in the World Cup because of their sterling preseason performances, with highly Sadio Mane, leading the pack.
But Senegal’s hopes were dimmed after Mane, who plays for Bayern Munich, got injured just before the final team list of Senegal to Qatar was named. Hopeful that he could recover early enough to play in the tournament, Mane was named in the list. But just hours to the start of the tournaments, doctors insisted that he had to undergo surgery before he could play again. He was dropped and replaced with 20-year-old Moussa N’Diaye, who plays for Anderlecht FC.
But when Senegal’s performance went below par in the game against Netherlands, the permutations began to change. In other matches involving African countries and Ghana lost 2-3 to Portugal, Cameroun lost 0-1 to Switzerland. The North African countries of Morocco and Tunisia did a face-saving performance when they had barren draws in their own opening matches. Morocco played 0-0 with Croatia while Tunisia and Denmark played 0-0.
The tournament too has not failed to provide upsets. Saudi Arabia beat highly rated Argentina that included five-time world footballer of the year, Lionel Messi 2-1 and their country declared a public holiday to celebrate the victory.
Japan came from a goal down to beat three world cup winners, Germany 2-1 and Japanese fans expressed their happiness by sweeping the stadium and dressing room clean.
There have also been roaring goal festivals. England beat Iran 6-2 while Spain beat Costa Rica 7-0. Iran has since dusted its crash by winning their second match by beating Wales 2-0.
Top rated Brazil, France and Portugal won their first matches and look forward to consolidating their leads in their respective groups.
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