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Andile Ncube column: England against Senegal could be a World Cup clash for the ages

Andile Ncube column: England against Senegal could be a World Cup clash for the ages

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Johannesburg – What a fantastic match we have in prospect here.

England have found their goalscoring mojo and while they were unable to unlock the stoic United States defence in the group stage, they were able to put nine goals past Iran and Wales en route to romping into the last 16.

There is undoubtedly a bit of “Benni in the 18 area” in Marcus Rashford’s play in Qatar and he was a real menace in the box in netting a brace against Wales in England’s last group game, including scoring the Three Lions’ 100th World Cup goal.

England coach, Gareth Southgate, has such a wealth of attacking talent at his disposal that he doesn’t always seem to know what to do with it.

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He has, though, seemed to realise that if he wants to actually win the World Cup, his team have got to play and he has started to unleash his attackers in Qatar, starting with Phil Foden against Wales, who rewarded him with a goal.

England will need to find that balance between attack and defence, with the wonderfully-gifted Jude Bellingham another world-class player in their midfield, while at the back Harry Maguire has seemed to put his nightmare club form behind him to look a bit more decent in an England shirt.

He will be in for a torrid test, though, against Senegal’s marauding Lions of Teranga on Sunday. Senegal have put aside the bitter disappointment of losing their talisman Sadio Mane on the eve of the tournament, with the likes of Boulaye Dia and Ismaila Sarr looking sharp upfront.

England’s travelling fans are also a passionate bunch, but they will have an inspired, highly-motivated west African team and their fans to contend with, with Senegal buoyed and inspired by the memory of their iconic midfielder Papa Bouba Diop, who helped them reach the World Cup quarter-finals in 2002.

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Now, as Senegal face England it is with the prize of a quarter-final spot at stake, and they certainly won’t be overawed by the challenge.

England probably have the skill and the better talent man for man, but Senegal have the passion, energy and the experience of players like Eduouard Mendy, Kalidou Koulibaly and Pape Gueye who will not stand back.

This one will be a passionate firecracker of a match, and I’m backing Senegal to stun England and knock them out of Qatar.

Andile Ncube’s Prediction: England 1 Senegal 2


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