Lions v Lions as England prepare to face Senegal: Sunday’s round of 16 for Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions are Teranga Lions – and African champions
There will be more than pride at stake when England take on Senegal in the Battle of the Lions this Sunday.
The Three Lions’ reward for topping Group B after a decisive 3-0 win over Wales last night will be a knockout tie against Group A runners-up and African champions Senegal on Sunday night.
The West African team, known as the Teranga Lions, are ranked 18th in the world, one position above Wales.
The Senegalese side will start the game as underdogs against Gareth Southgate’s men but they are not without pedigree, having won the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year.
However, the team is carrying out its World Cup campaign without star player Sadio Mané, who was ruled out of the tournament through injury.
Senegal is a French-speaking country in West Africa known as the “gateway to Africa”.
England qualified for the knockout stages of the World Cup after beating Wales 3-0, which included an assist from captain Harry Kane (pictured)
Senegal captain Kalidou Koulibaly (pictured) took his side to the next round with the winning goal against Ecuador on Tuesday
The Three Lions will meet the Teranga Lions in the Round of 16 of the World Cup on Sunday night
Although it’s far from being the biggest economy on the continent, Senegal has produced some top footballers over the years, and its capital Dakar is a popular tourist destination, which includes Africa’s tallest statue.
There are also seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country, home to a wide variety of wildlife including lions and killer hippos.
Senegal is predominantly Muslim, with around 90% of the population following Sufi Islam, a mystical branch of the religion that emphasizes tolerance.
Unlike many of its neighbours, the country has never been attacked by radical Islamists and is seen as a source of stability in the region.
Just over 20 years ago, Senegal staged one of the biggest upsets in football history, as little-known World Cup debutants beat then-defending champions France in the opening match of the 2002 tournament.
They reached the quarter-finals with a team of unknowns such as El Hadji Diouf, Salif Diao and Papa Bouba Diop, all of whom will soon meet in the Premier League.
Their captain during this tournament, defender Aliou Cissé, now leads the national team.
Football fans in the Senegalese capital Dakar celebrate after their team scored in their group stage match against Qatar
Dakar is home to Le Monument de la Renaissance Africaine (Le Monument de la Renaissance Africaine) – the tallest statue in Africa
The country is home to seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites and has a rich variety of wildlife
Outside of football, one of Senegal’s most famous exports is singer and rapper Akon.
The 49-year-old burst onto the global pop scene in the mid-2000s with “Lonely” – which sampled Bobby Vinton’s “Mr Lonely” – and went on to achieve chart success with singles such as ” Smack That” and “Locked Up”.
French is listed as the official language of Senegal, although the most widely spoken language is Wolof.
Its biggest export is gold and its capital, Dakar, is the end point of the annual Desert Rally.
England will be hoping the Teranga Lions reach the end of their World Cup run this Sunday.