Senegal head coach Aliou Cisse will leave nothing to chance as he attempts to guide Senegal into the last 16 at the World Cup finals.
Cisse’s side sits in second place in Group H, level on points, goal difference and goals scored with Japan and a point ahead of Thursday’s opponents Colombia.
However, having repeatedly witnessed late drama in Russia in recent days, he is determined to secure the victory against the free-flowing South Americans which will secure their progression in style.
Cisse told a press conference: “Colombia have to beat us to make it to the last 16, but we are perfectly capable of defeating Colombia.
“Our state of mind hasn’t changed: we play one match at a time. The only option is to get into the last 16, and this means that we have to defeat Colombia.”
A 2-1 victory over Poland and an eventful 2-2 draw with the Japanese, in which the Teranga Lions led twice, has left them well poised to progress, although Colombia represent tricky opponents as their 3-0 demolition of the Poles last time out proved.
Cisse said: “I think Colombia and Senegal have the same way of playing. They like commitment, they like high speed, so I think it’s going to be a highly-contested match, a very interesting match between two teams who could both be in the round of 16.
“It’s true that Colombia may raise a few difficulties for us, but we have a few aces up our sleeves as well and I think tomorrow, we will be able to play them.”
The Colombians will run out in Samara confident that they can dent Senegal’s qualification hopes, but knowing to do so, they will have to keep a tight rein on Liverpool star Sadio Mane.
Tottenham defender Davinson Sanchez, who witnessed Mane’s exploits at close hand last season, said: “We know he’s an extraordinary player with a great season behind him, but we are going to focus on all Senegal’s qualities and we have to realise that we can hurt them.
“I’ll repeat, he’s had a great season in the Premier League, but we need to look at ourselves in terms of our morale and the style of play that has allowed us to be here today.”
Head coach Jose Pekerman is well aware of the price of failure, but is confident Colombia can get the result they want if they reproduce their display against Poland.
He said: “It’s an absolutely decisive match and only victory will guarantee that we move on to the round of 16.
“Our morale is high and I think we need to be optimistic, especially if we look at what happened in the last match.
“Senegal have great players – they practically all play in Europe, so they are used to playing in England, France, in the Spanish league and so forth, so these are players who know how to work in this sort of match.
“They have been successful both against Poland and against Japan. We hope that dynamic is going to change.”
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