Senegal need to up their game against Cape Verde if they are to make it past the Blue Sharks
Senegal will be hoping to kick on at this year's Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) when they face Cape Verde in their Round-of-16 fixture at the Bafoussam Stadium on Tuesday.
Despite finishing first from Group B, the Teranga Lions picked up only five points (the least of any table-topper from the six groups) and scored only one goal during the group stage (a 97th-minute penalty).
Meanwhile, the Blue Sharks' of Cape Verde qualified as one of the best third-placed teams, garnering four points from Group A, finishing below Cameroon and Burkina Faso.
Cape Verde qualify for Round-of-16
Sadio Mane & Co. will have to improve massively if they are to go one step better than their 2019 silver medals.
Senegal have made it to the quarterfinals on 10 occasions, never losing a Round-of-16 fixture on the 10 occasions they have made it out of the group stages.
Cape Verde have been to the AFCON finals only twice in their history, qualifying for the quarterfinals in their debut competition at the 2013 edition in South Africa but crashed out at the group stage at Equatorial Guinea in 2015.
Senegal have not conceded in their past four games, having won twice and drawn twice in those games.
The last time the Teranga Lions' defence was breached was in November 2021 in a World Cup qualifier against Togo that ended 1-1.
Senegal forward Sadio Mane (R) attacks against Malawi in an Africa Cup of Nations Group B match in Bafoussam
Cape Verde have won two, drawn two and lost one of their last five games. In that time, the Blue Sharks have scored five goals and conceded four times.
In competitive games, Senegal and Cape Verde have met twice with the Teranga Lions picking up two 2-0 victories over the Blue Sharks during the 2018 World Cup qualifying series.
The Senegal Vs. Cape Verde game is scheduled for Tuesday, January 25 at the Bafoussam Stadium in Kouekong by 5 pm Nigerian time.
Senegal welcomed Edouard Mendy and Nampalys Mendy back into their squad for their final group match against Malawi with the Premier League duo having recovered from Covid-19.
Aliou Cisse should field both of them but Crystal Palace midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate would serve a one-match suspension after picking yellow cards in consecutive group stage games against Guinea and Malawi.
Cape Verde coach Bubista will likely restore Garry Rodrigues to his starting line-up for this crucial clash.
Garry Rodrigues has scored one goal and made one assist at AFCON 2021
The Olympiacos winger started on the bench against Cameroon in the final group stage game, only to come on and score the equaliser for the island nation.
Senegal Possible Starting XI: Edouard Mendy; Bouna Sarr, Abdou Diallo, Kalidou Koulibaly, Saliou Ciss, Paul Gueye, Nampalys Mendy, Idrissa Gana Gueye; Boulaye Dia, Habibou Mouhamadou Diallo, Sadio Mane.
Cape Verde Possible Starting XI: Vozinha; Jeffry Fortes, Diney, Roberto Lopes, Stopira, Dylan Tavares; Willy Semedo, Patrick Andrade, Kenny Santos; Garry Rodrigues, Jamiro Monteiro
Senegal are expected to get their act together with the competition entering the business end of proceedings.
The Teranga Lions have solidity in defence that Bubista's team will find almost impossible to break through and a few chances should allow Senegal to get the goal they need to win. This match is likely to end in a 1-0 victory in favour of Senegal.