Sun | Feb 5, 2023

FLOW Qatar Spotlight|Proud Senegal, overmatched Poland and waiting Lions

Published:Sunday | December 4, 2022 | 5:34 PMDaniel Wheeler/Staff Reporter, Orane Buchanan/Staff Reporter, Paul-Andre Walker/Sports Editor
Senegal's Pape Matar Sarr (left) greets England's Harry Kane at the end of their World Cup round of 16 football match at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar on Sunday.
France's Olivier Giroud (left) and teammate Kylian Mbappe celebrate after the latter scored their side's second goal during the World Cup round of 16 football match against Poland at the Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar on Sunday.
England's Jordan Henderson (centre) celebrates with his teammates after scoring his side's first goal during the World Cup round of 16 football match against Senegal at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar on Sunday.
Poland's Robert Lewandowski waves after the World Cup round of 16 football match against France at the Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar on Sunday.
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Senegal have much to be proud of

Daniel Wheeler

Alas Senegal just couldn't find a way past England. Not having Sadio Mane finally showed. But for Alou Cisse and company this year should be seen as a success. African champions and a World Cup round of 16 place are achievements to be proud of.

I was concerned about how France's depth would be tested with the string of injuries they have had to deal with. Turns out they are dealing with it just fine. Even without Benzema, Kante and Pogba, the reigning champions put Poland out to pasture and will be difficult to stop. Olivier Giroud surpassing Theirry Henry atop the all-time men's goalscoring list for France is no small feat. Mbappe having nine World Cup goals all before 25. Is a repeat possible? They have every chance to do it.

French répéter?

Orane Buchanan

Prior to the start of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, I reckon that without the services of Ngolo Kante, Paul Pogba and Karim Benzema, this French team must definitely be short of something. They must look a shadow of themselves and despite having the heart to repeat as champions, which will be a first at the World Cup since Brazil’s exploits at the 1958 and 1962 games, the flesh might be weak. I guess the Didier Deschamps-coached unit have other ideas, because the more and more this team plays, the more unbeatable they look.

With a good of mixture of youth and experience the French team has now set up a quarterfinal date with Gareth Southgate’s charges. Is it really coming home? Or will the defending champs dig even deeper to show why they’re still the standard bearers in Qatar?

First real test for France coming up

Paul-Andre Walker

England and France played against teams they never had to do much to get past. While there have been many plaudits about the performance of France and how those performances have made them firm favourites for next week’s quarterfinal clash against England, I’m not so sure.

France have played against Australia, Denmark, Tunisia, and now Senegal. While all those teams are good teams and worthy of respect for the way they have played in this tournament, none of them were set up in such a way as to deal with the tremendous firepower of the French. England just may be. To date, England conceded twice against Iran in their first game. They have not conceded since. There is a statement that goes something like offence wins games, but defence wins titles. I can’t be sure, but the defensive test that may come from England will make this quarterfinal very interesting.

I also want to spare a thought for Robert Lewandowski. The greatest Polish player of all will likely have played in his last World Cup and the affair was not memorable. Though he scored, the penalty he converted was unconvincing and of no moment. Maybe not the memory we want to have of one of the greatest strikers of this generation of footballers.