By Spy Uganda
Senegal beat Ecuador 2-1 to become the first African nation to qualify for the round of 16 at a FIFA World Cup since 2014 on Tuesday.
Ismaila Sarr gave Senegal the lead by converting a penalty in the 44th minute but Moises Caicedo equalised for Ecuador in the 67th minute. However, three minutes later, a header from Kalidou Koulibaly restored Senegal’s lead which it managed to hold on to till the final whistle.
With two wins and a loss, African champion Senegal finished behind Netherlands in second place in Group A at the ongoing edition in Qatar. In the round of 16 fixture, Senegal will face the Group B topper.
Four years ago at the World Cup in Russia, Senegal had missed out on a spot in the knockouts in heartbreaking fashion as it became the first team to be eliminated based on disciplinary record after finishing joint-second with Japan during the group stage on points, goal difference, goals scored and head-to-head record.
Senegal had made its World Cup debut in 2002 where it shocked the then defending champion France 1-0 in its first group match. It eventually lost 0-1 to Turkey in the quarterfinals of the edition, hosted by South Korea and Japan. Interestingly, Aliou Cisse, the current coach of the national side, was the captain of the 2002 squad.
The African nation, nicknamed ‘Lions of Teranga,’ had to wait for 16 years before it finally managed to qualify for its second World Cup in 2018.