Last Saturday Senegal lost their opening game of the 2012 African Cup of Nations. The surprise 2-1 defeat to Zambia has left the Lions of Teranga with a lot of work to do in order to qualify from group A. Here is a few of the key men they will look towards to assure their passage through to the knockout stage.
The Newcastle striker has been a total revelation this season. A free from West Ham in the summer, Ba has been in fantastic scoring form for the Magpies, netting 15 times before his departure to the Cup of Nations earlier this month. Amongst his impressive goal haul has been two hat-tricks, as well as some memorable strikes, including a fine volley against Manchester United.
Papiss Demba Cissé
Recently signed by Newcastle to partner his Senegalese counterpart Demba Ba in attack, Cissé had been a prolific scorer for SC Freiburg in Germany. His 22 goals in the Bundesliga last season had attracted interest from several clubs across Europe, but it was Newcastle that got their man earlier this month. Cissé has a goal scoring record for Senegal that currently stands at being better than a goal every other game, and his national team will be hoping this record continues.
Another Senegalese striker that has impressed in Europe, Sow has been a consistent goal scorer for French champions Lille in Ligue 1. The 26 year-old was in fantastic form last season, scoring 25 goals as his side captured the French domestic double. Due to his eye-catching performances, Sow is often linked with a move away from Lille, but as of yet, a transfer has failed to materialise. The Lions of Teranga will be hoping that Sow’s fine scoring form for his club can be replicated for his national side.
Another one of Senegal’s highly rated front line, N’Doye is a regular scorer for FC Copenhagen. His impressive return of 25 goals in 31 games last season helped his side secure the 2011 Danish Superliga. His goal on Saturday against Zambia showed the striker’s strength in technique and finishing, and Senegal will be hoping there’s more of the same to come.
Huge physical presence, the 6 ft 4in Bordeaux star will probably occupy the holding midfield role for Senegal, and could play a vital role in his side’s midfield battles. Sané, a relative newcomer to the national set-up, could be a pleasant surprise to Senegal’s followers and has the potential to be one of their key players.
The Marseille defender, formerly of Charlton Athletic in the Premier League, is one of the most experienced players in the Senegal squad. Diawara will bring with him a commanding presence, as well as organisational skills and experience that could be invaluable in Senegal’s quest for glory.
Plays for Wigan Athletic in the Premier League, Diamé is a defensive midfielder. He has an abundance of energy as well as a commanding presence in the centre of midfield. He also has a good range of passing, something that isn’t always easy on Wigan’s often bobbly pitch.
Senegal’s main strength lies in attack, where they boast a plethora of talent. If these key men can perform, then Senegal may taste glory in their continent’s premier international tournament for the first time.