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28th Jun 2018

Senegal put out of World Cup by harshest clause ever

A toss of a coin would've decided this four years ago

Niall McIntyre

What a kick in the teeth.

Senegal have been one of the stories of the World Cup so far. The African side took the World Cup by storm when they defeated Poland first time out.

Their joyous celebrations after that game endeared them to onlookers far and wide. Manager Aliou Cisse leads the laid back charge but aside from the cool demeanour, these lads play some quality, free-flowing football to boot.

Group H has been one of the tightest groups in this World Cup so far. It went all the way down to the wire and prior to Thursday’s final round of games three out of the four teams present had a live chance of making it through to the Round of 16.

After a dramatic afternoon’s football, it was the Senegalese who fell victim and it was due to one of the harshest World Cup rules of all.

Cisse’s side were looking good all the way up to the 74th minute of the action in the Samara Arena until big, bustling defender Mina netted a bullet header for Jose Peckerman’s side.

As a result of that goal, Colombia dropped from second to third in the group.

This was all despite Japan losing to Poland in the group’s other game. With Senegal and Japan both on four points and having the same goal difference, for the first time in the World Cup’s history, the progressing team would be decided by their disciplinary record.

Seeing as Senegal had six yellow cards to Japan’s four, they were headed for elimination. What makes it even more galling for the African’s is that two of these game-changing yellow cards came in injury time of their loss to Japan.

If this happened in 2014, it would have went down to a coin toss.

The margins couldn’t have been any finer. You’d have to feel for the Senegalese.

Here’s how the table stood by the end of it all.