Fast and furious Teranga Lions bully Poland into costly mistakes

Source: Ghana|myjoyonline.com|Edwin Appiah|edwin.appiah@myjoyonline.com
Date: 19th-june-2018 Time:  6:28:44 pm

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A Black coach, Aliou Cisse, made the case for the African campaign at the FIFA World Cup with a defiant performance as Senegal's Teranga Lions outfought Poland to record the continent's first victory in Russia.

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The win rewrites a tale of four defeats for African teams as Senegal becomes Africa's bandwagon of hope.

Senegal played traditional African soccer -fast and furious, bulky and serious - and kept things as simple as 4-4-2.

True, the first goal needed a deflection and the second needed some poor Poland communication to find Niang breathing down the neck of a nervous defender to steal the ball into a wide empty net. But Senegal deserved their luck.

The Senegalese relied on physique to paper over faulty technique and used a cocky confidence to paper over the psychological burden of knowing the African trend in Russia has been losses.

Niang was put through on goal in the 18 minute after Sabaly darted inside from the left to leave a futile Poland chase. But the Torino man wide shot exposed poor technique.

A 33minute cross saw two Polish defenders go up to deal poorly with the header as a lurking Senegalese attacker saw the ball roll out.

A defender, Sane, knocked down his free header from a fine corner as he could not quite ready his head enough to give the keeper any headache.

Poland got their half-chances too but bodies blocked lone striker Lewandowski so that his 23 minutes shot if it were accurate would have been tamed by the bodies. But his shot went wide.

Niang who wasted his 11minute chance now acted as a provider. Once again his reliable strength won him a challenge on the left. He fed a pass to Sadio Mane who played as a deep-lying forward, collecting the ball from deep positions to work his way into dangerous channels.

He decelerated and found an accelerating Gueye storming into the box where Liverpool great Steven Gerrard is usually favoured to rocket in a shot.

Gueye's speculative low shot was well read by Juventus goalkeeper Szczensy but it deflected off Cionek who placed his hands over his head as the ball rolled into the net.

Poland returned to gain a 49minute freekick at the edge of the box after Sane obstructed Lewandowski run into the 18 yard area.

With every African side losing via set pieces, Lewandowski's freekick was palpitating enough for every Senegalese concerned.

Good technique to lift the ball over the wall but perhaps not enough power to stun the goal keeper Khadim N'Diaye who would be glad to make the catch.

Poland's attack was quenched frequently as crosses were headed out and an intimidating presence made sure the assault on the ground was grounded.

Unlike Tunisia, Senegal did simple things. A polish attack breakdown before a Senegalese defender deep in their half, he kicked it out, another player headed it further to the center half where Krychowiak backpassed it long.

But Niang had been standing out on the touchline after receiving treatment and when he was beckoned by the referee to join the game, he zoomed in on a defender who had not made up his mind on how to deal with the backpass.

 Sczcesny rushed out to close down Niang but the Senegalese  brawn, raw power weathered the challenge as he sped off with the ball for the simplest of finish into an empty net in the 59minute.

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Poland attacked Zielinski low shot went wide and Kownacki header did not work the Senegalese keeper hard enough.

Milik found himself inside the box but his shot into the near post spinned off narrowly.

A freekick far wide and flying across bodies was well directed into the net by Krychowiak for a 87minute goal to give the Polish three minutes and four of injury time to claw back into the game.

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Two goals for Senegal and a response from Poland was a cue to shut down the game and when Mane had his chance to run inside the box, he danced on the ball to run down the clock until time confirmed the Africans the first to win in Russia.

Polish attacker Arkadiusz Milik would remark after the game, Senegal built a wall and we were not able to jummp over it". He was right.

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