World Cup: When Senegal Were Eliminated Using ‘Farcical’ Yellow Card Rule

World Cup: When Senegal Were Eliminated Using ‘Farcical’ Yellow Card Rule

  • Senegal got a form of redemption after qualifying for the World Cup knockout stages in Qatar
  • This was not the case four years ago, as the Teranga Lions painfully exited at the group stage
  • Senegal fell to the tiebreaker rule despite equalling Colombia on points and goal difference

For the longest time, getting knocked out of the World Cup via a penalty shootout was up there as the most painful way of exiting the tournament.

Missing out through goal difference is also quite disheartening, but imagine getting knocked out because of having more yellow cards than your rivals.

This was exactly what happened to Senegal in 2018, as the Lions of Teranga - who were carrying Africa’s hopes in Russia - missed out on the knockout stages.

Senegal, 2018, World Cup
Senegal were painfully knocked out of the World Cup in 2018.
Source: Getty Images

As reported on Daily Star, Aliou Cisse’s men lost 1-0 to Colombia in their final group match, which made things very interesting.

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Defeat meant they had suffered a win, draw and loss, which was the exact same fate their group mates Japan had endured in Group H.

Interestingly, Senegal were tied with Japan on points, goal difference and goals scored after three matches.

Typically, such a situation would be settled by a head-to-head record, but that would not work either as Senegal and Japan played out an entertaining 2-2 draw.

What did FIFA do?

Because of the extraordinary deadlock situation, FIFA had to resort to a very rarely used metric to determine who would advance to the knockout stages - the fair play rule.

This involved looking at the number of yellow cards accrued by both teams in the group stages, and on that front, Japan emerged on top.

The Lions of Teranga picked up six yellow cards in the group stage, which was two more than Colombia, meaning they had to exit the competition.

Senegal through in Qatar

It is safe to say Senegal made amends for their past failure, as they rose from a disappointing defeat on the opening day against the Netherlands to emerge second in their group after beating Qatar and Ecuador.

As Sports Brief reported, Senegal boss Cisse dedicated the team's win over Ecuador to Sadio Mane. The 30-year-old picked up the injury to his right fibula in one of Bayern Munich's final games, just days before the World Cup.

It was initially hoped that the former Liverpool star would feature in the global football showpiece, only for further examinations of his injury to see him ruled out of the competition.