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Senegal makes history with first knockout appearance

Xinhua | Updated: 2022-11-30 09:12
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Senegal's Kalidou Koulibaly celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates during a Group A match against Ecuador at the FIFA World Cup at Khalifa International Stadium, Doha, Qatar, November 29, 2022. 

DOHA - Kalidou Koulibaly said Senegal will seek to "make history" as they prepare for their first appearance in the FIFA World Cup knockout phase since 2002.

The Chelsea defender scored the winning goal as Senegal booked a place in the last 16 in Qatar with a 2-1 victory over Ecuador on Tuesday.

"Our goal when we arrived was to go beyond the first round so we can be happy, but we want to go further," Koulibaly told a news conference.

"We are like one big family and we want to make history together. Every game will be tough and we have to concentrate on our next game and respect our opponents."

Koulibaly dedicated Tuesday's victory to former Senegal midfielder Papa Bouba Diop, who died in 2020, and striker Sadio Mane, who was ruled out of the tournament days before it began because of a leg injury.

"Even though he [Mane] is not with us, we feel like he is a part of this," the 31-year-old center back said. "I couldn't believe it when I heard that he wouldn't be playing [in Qatar]. We knew there would be more pressure on us because he is our star and our symbol. But it also made us want to show that Senegal is a team of 11 players and now is the time for other players to shine."

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