Kane misfiring but England big favourites to end Senegal run

Despite the absence of Sadio Mane, Senegal was impressive at the World Cup.

Who: England vs Senegal
Where: Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
When: December 4, 22:00 (19:00 GMT)

The prospect of Harry Kane failing to score in any of England’s World Cup group matches may have left fans fearing the worst, but instead there is a growing sense of optimism as Gareth Southgate’s side progress to Sunday’s last 16 watching with Senegal.

Kane, whose 51 goals for his country puts him just two behind record holder Wayne Rooney, has yet to score fully in Qatar, with barely a shot on target.

A foot strike in the opening win against Iran hasn’t helped the England captain, who topped the 2018 World Cup with six points, but his lack of goals certainly hasn’t hampered England’s smooth progression to the knockout rounds.

Kane’s failure to hit the net can even be turned around for the better.

England still managed to score nine goals in the tournament as their other forwards came forward, none more than Manchester United’s rejuvenated Marcus Rashford on three goals already.

Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling and Bukayo Saka were also among the goals, leaving Southgate with a pleasant selection dilemma for Senegal, although it’s unthinkable he wouldn’t start with Kane in his three forwards.

Compared to the heart-pumping rides experienced by some of the other favorites here, England sauntered through their group. But now, says Southgate, the serious work begins.

Senegal defeated Ecuador 2-1 to seal its spot in the round of 16 [File: Issei Kato/Reuters]

Senegal were crowned African champions earlier this year and although they will be playing at the World Cup without injured talisman Sadio Mane, the Lions of Teranga are a powerful squad full of experience and committed to coach Aliou Cisse.

Senegal have reached the knockout stages of the World Cup for only the second time after a dramatic 2-1 win against Ecuador secured second place in Group A.

England are favored to progress to the quarter-finals, but Senegalese assistant coach Regis Bogaert believes other surprising results at this year’s World Cup could inspire his team.

“The message is strong,” he said. “We’ve seen Cameroon beat Brazil and Tunisia beat France, so we know Senegal can beat England. That’s what we’re aiming for. That’s an important message.”

If Senegal is to cope with the shock, they may have to do without their inspirational leader and coach Aliou Cisse, who has been sidelined by illness.

Adding to the challenge is that the African champions will surely miss their midfield general Idrissa Gueye, who has been suspended for the game after receiving a second yellow card in their final group stage match against Ecuador.

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Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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