Senegal and Japan played out a pulsating 2-2 draw in a Group H encounter, in front of a 30,000 strong crowd at Ekaterinburg Arena, with Senegal scoring through Moussa Wague and star forward Sadio Mane, and Japan responding through Takashi Inui and substitute Keisuke Honda, coming twice from behind. Defensive errors at both the ends had significant repercussions, with a goal apiece coming from those errors for both sides. This result, combined with Colombia’s trouncing of Poland in the later Group H match, means there is all to play for the three sides in the final round.
Senegal have some of the most frightening pace in the tournament, with the attacking line of Ismaila Sarr, Idrissa Gueye and the ever-threatening Sadio Mane capable of leaving defenders shaking in their boots. Breakout star Ismaila Sarr, plying his trade with Stade Rennes, will undoubtedly be a player on the transfer watch list, if his performances are an indicator. Mane was, as always, lethal on the counters, making optimum use of his pace and timing, aided by Japan’s defensive blunders. With a backline marshaled by Kalidou Koulibaly, the Lions of Teranga could be more than a match for England or Belgium in the next round.
Japan has proven to be a surprise package in the tournament, with their dispatching of Colombia in their opener with a strong message for the other teams, and their tireless performance against Senegal, aided by a superb Takashi Inui performance, only highlighting their potential as a Dark Horse in the tournament.
Sadio Mane’s Liverpool teammate Mohammed Salah is meanwhile having a tournament to forget. After getting knocked out of the tournament through back-to-back losses against Russia and Uruguay, Salah found himself in hot water over a dinner invitation by Chechnya leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, where he was granted honorary citizenship. Reports suggested that he has considered quitting the National Team.