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Senegal out to banish 2018 heartache and continue World Cup ‘adventure’

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enegal boss Aliou Cisse has urged his side to “continue their adventure” by booking a place in the World Cup last-16 this afternoon.

Cisse’s men play Ecuador in what is effectively a play-off for a place in the knockout stage. A point will be enough to send Ecuador through, meaning Senegal, who won their first Africa Cup of Nations title earlier this year, must win to advance.

“We understand that winning will allow us to continue on the adventure and that’s exactly what we intend on doing,” said Cisse, whose side were cruelly eliminated on a fair-play tiebreaker after finishing level on points with Japan at the last World Cup.

“We know in 2018 we were looking for a draw when maybe the points would play in our favour but this isn’t the case [today].”

Senegal arrived at the tournament as many people’s dark horses but the loss of star forward Sadio Mane, as well as Ecuador’s impressive form, has complicated their route to what would be a first knockout appearance since 2002.

“I come from a country where we don’t like losing,” Cisse added. “We’re always hungry for that win. Not going to the round of 16 would be difficult to digest.

“We’re okay, we’re dealing with the pressure and stress. For me, it’s good stress.”

Ecuador are set to make a late decision over the fitness of star forward Enner Valencia.

The former West Ham striker has scored all three of his country’s goals at the tournament so far, but was substituted with knee issues in both the opening win over Qatar and Friday’s draw with the Netherlands.

“He has a big heart and he wants to be in every battle with our national team,” head coach Gustavo Alfaro said. “He wants to be there. He’s an extraordinary player and we’ll try and get him ready.”

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