The Lions of Teranga will face Tanzania in this year's Cup of Nations' opening match on Sunday, June 23, at 30 June stadium, Egypt. Taifa Stars are the lowest FIFA ranked side in Group C (211), and are not expected to provide much of a challenge to the talented Senegal group, remaining unbeaten throughout the qualification campaign.
Aliou Cisse's men will face Algeria and Kenya who are capable of upsetting any side on their day, which should be noted by the Senegalese players. The Lions failed to gel together during their practice match against Mali in March. But, Sadio Mane-captained side decimated Real Murcia in their last warm-up game, winning 7-0 against the Spanish team.
Senegal will face Nigeria for the final preparation game, which will be contested without the participation of the spectators. It will be interesting to see how the Lions fare in this match and the combinations which Aliou Cisse prefers before the main tournament begins.
Concerning the selected squad, Aliou Cisse has opted for a strong squad, 17 of the chosen 23 featuring in Europe's top five leagues. The Lions of Teranga seek their first-ever AFCON title, anticipating Mane and Koulibaly to play a significant part in this year's competition.
Senegal will start their Cup of Nations campaign with a fully-fit squad of 23 members available for selection.
Aliou Cisse must have fixed the group of eleven who will feature at the tournament at least for the first few games. The Senegal coach will deploy his preferred 4-4-2 formation with M'Daye Diagne and Sadio Mane up front.
Idrissa Gueye will pair alongside Alfred N'Diaye to occupy the central spots in the four-man midfield with Keita Balde, and M'Baye Niang placed on the right and left sides respectively.
The defence will be led by Kalidou Koulibaly, playing as a left-sided centre-half, with Salif Sane placed adjacent to him. Lamine Gassama and Youssouf Sabaly will be Senegal's right-back and left-back respectively, with Alfred Gomis starting between the sticks.
With Senegal lineup being discussed above, let's take a look at the Lions' starting eleven against the Tanzanians.
Senegal: Alfred Gomis (gk), Lamine Gassama, Salif Sane, Kalidou Koulibaly, Youssouf Sabaly, Keita Balde, Idrissa Gana, Alfred N'Diaye, M'Baye Niang, M'Baye Diagne, Sadio Mane (c).
#1 Sadio Mane
Sadio Mane will go into the Cup of Nations on the back of a prolific season, earning the Golden Boot for Liverpool with 22 goals. Aliou Cisse will be expecting similar exploits from Sadio for the national side as well.
The 27-year-old's clinical finishing will be a deciding factor in this year's continental tournament for Senegal. Mane will share the attacking responsibility with M'Baye Diagne who scored 30 goals in the Turkish League last season, and they could form a deadly partnership in the competition.
#2 Kalidou Koulibaly
Kalidou Koulibaly has developed into a dominant centre-back during his time at Napoli. The 27-year-old showcased his leadership skills for the Italian side, commanding the players around him to maintain their positions.
Not only is he strong defensively, but Koulibaly also possesses terrific ability on the ball, capable of picking up passes through the lines. The Senegal side will rely on Kalidou's able reading of the game to produce clever interceptions and tackles, providing much-needed stability to the Lions' side.