Senegal football team are making their first appearance at the Olympics tournament and being placed into the same group as hosts Great Britain and South American giants Uruguay, the Teranga Lions will have their work cut out for them. Nonetheless, with the squad consisting of talented players plying their trade all over Europe, Senegal could be expected to spring one or two surprises in London.
The national team chiefs failed to persuade Newcastle stars Papiss Demba Cisse and Demba Ba to appear at the Olympics, meaning that Metalist defender Papa Gueye and the latest West Ham acquisition Momo Diame occupy two over-age places in the squad.
Senegal Olympic 2012 Squad
Goalkeepers: Ousmane Mane (Diambars FC), Papa Demba Camara (Sochaux).
Defenders: Abdoulaye Ba (Academica Coimbra), Serigne Kara Mbodji, Saliou Ciss (both Tromso), Papa Gueye (Metallist Kharkiv), Pape Ndiaye Souare (Lille), Zargo Toure (Boulogne), Victor Demba Bindia (Sandefjord), Cheikhou Kouyate (Anderlecht).
Midfielders: Stephane Badji (Sogndal), Idrissa Gana Gueye (Lille), Mohamed Diame (West Ham), Moussa Konate (Maccabi Tel Aviv), Sadio Mane (Metz).
Forwards: Magaye Gueye (Everton), Ibrahima Balde (Osasuna), Kalidou Coulibaly Yero (Gil Vicente).
Senegal first entered the qualifiers for the 1972 Olympics, but failed to qualify for the final tournament ten times in a row. The Teranga Lions beat Oman 2-0 last April to ensure their first ever participation at the Olympic football tournament.
Karim Sega Diouf and the 2002 World Cup star Aliou Cisse are in charge of the Senegal Olympics squad and they have been doing a very good job so far. With most of the players from the Under-23 squad already playing for the senior side, Diouf and Cisse will have a chance to further establish their coaching credentials with a good result at the 2012 London Olympics.
Players to Watch
Senegal coaches were spoilt for choices in attack in the past and the situation is no different this time, even with Cisse and Ba out of the squad. The attacking trio of Magaye Gueye, Ibrahima Balde and Moussa Konate is expected to cause all sorts of problems for the opposition defenders, while West Ham midfielder Momo Diame should play a key role in the centre of the park.
Prediction: Group stage
With almost half of the squad already playing for the senior national team, Senegal have a potential to cause a surprise at the Olympics, but they face a tough task in trying to pip either Uruguay or Great Britain to the second place in the group. With Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba missing, that seems to be an impossible task.