GROUP A PERMUTATIONS | Senegal in with a chance to save Africa’s face with a Last 16 qualification

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As the final round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup group stage matches kick off on Tuesday, pressure will be on African champions, Senegal when they go into their final group stage match against Ecuador at the Khalifa International Stadium in Qatar on Wednesday evening. The Lions of Teranga conspicuously missed the African footballer of the Year, Sadio Mané, when they lost 2-0 to Netherlands in their opening match of the 2022 FIFA World Cup last week. However, they made amends a few days later when they faced hosts Qatar last Fridaym in their second group stage encounter. This when Boulaye Dia, Famara Diedhiou and Bamba Dieng got their names on the score bored to give Senegal a 3-1 victory.

But it will be how they show up against the Ecuadorians that will be telling. A win will certainly secure a Last 16 qualification for the Senegalese, becoming the first African country to go beyond the group stages in what has so far been a difficult tournament for African countries. This would most certainly set Senegal up for a Group A runners-up finish behind Netherlands who will at the same time be up against Qatar at the Al Bayt Stadium. The Dutch should have an easy three-points collection against the beleaguered host who have already become the worst performing host in the history.

However, a draw for Senegal will not be enough as they would be on four points behind Ecuador who would be on five points and a loss is not an option for Senegal.

Netherlands will want to collect maximum points when they face Qatar in order to finish atop Group A to avoid facing England – who are expected to finish top of Group B – in the Last 16. A win for the Dutch will leave them a bigger possibility of facing Iran, or the USA and an outside chance of facing Wales in the event that England against the odds lost to Wales and finish second in Group B.

A win for Senegal would most likely set them up for Last 16 clash against most likely England.

Worst case scenario

The most unlikely outcome of Group A, which would come as probably the biggest shock of the tournament yet, would be a situation where Qatar registers their first win against Netherlands and Senegal gets maximum points against Ecuador. In such an unlikely situation, depending on goal difference and the number of goals scored, Netherlands could have to pack their bags and fly back home in Europe, losing the runners-up spot to Ecuador. But that is most unlikely…


Netherlands and Senegal to go through.