Senegal and Colombia making right moves ahead of dance-off
Senegal and Colombia are keeping it loose at the World Cup while remaining focused on the goal. Both teams are comfortable showing emotion, and there should be plenty when they meet today in a decisive final group stage match in Samara.
Senegal, with its big following of jubilant fans, grabbed attention earlier in their tournament with a synchronised dance during warm-ups. It's a ritual for the Senegalese team which hasn't been to the World Cup since 2002. The dance was one of the viral moments of the tournament so far.
"This is our culture, you see? Joy, peace, hospitality. And, you know, happiness," said Senegal coach Aliou Cisse. "You may dance and be happy in life and still be serious on the pitch. This is what we do."
Defender Kalidou Koulibaly said the team loves to dance before major matches. "It is something that is in our blood, in our culture," Koulibaly said.
Senegal and Japan lead Group H with four points each. Colombia have three points and could advance if they beat Senegal, and both could go through with a draw if Japan lose.
adoring Cisse was captain of the Senegal side at the 2002 World Cup that upset champions France in the group stage, advancing to the quarter-finals before falling to Turkey. The Lions are the lone African team still in the hunt for a knockout place. "We know we have the Senegalese people and the African continent behind us, so we have to do our best to end this with flying colours," Koulibaly said.
Colombia have also been accompanied to Russia by throngs of adoring fans. And just like the team that went to the quarter-finals at the World Cup four years ago, Los Cafeteros are known for their dancing. Videos spread of the Colombians practising the dance to "Seko Seka" by Alex Pichi. The team beat Poland 3-0 and the players broke into the dance following Juan Cuadrado's final goal.
"We have to enjoy it," defender Davinson Sanchez said. "Besides being a supremely tough profession, our job has an extra moment of difficulty because of the minimum details that can expose us. But the coach gives us the message that we should try to enjoy our work with responsibility."