Senegal v Zimbabwe: Cisse wants to live up to favourites tag

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Senegal will look to defend their status as one of the favourites for Africa Cup of Nations glory when they take on Zimbabwe in Franceville on Thursday.

After beginning their campaign with a 2-0 victory over Group B rivals Tunisia, Aliou Cisse's side know that another win will send them into the quarter-finals

However, the Senegal boss is wary of taking anything for granted against Zimbabwe.

Callisto Pasuwa's team may appear on paper to be the weakest team in the pool, but a 2-2 draw against Algeria in their opening fixture has given Cisse plenty to ponder

"We all know this will be a difficult match against Zimbabwe, but we are Senegal and we have a status to defend," said Cisse.

"We are not underestimating them. Zimbabwe are a good team and what they showed against Algeria did not surprise me.

"We are in a tough group where anything can happen."

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Senegal - Balde Keita

Moulded in Barcelona's famed La Masia academy, it is approaching time for Balde Keita to deliver on the potential that encouraged Lazio to sign him prior to his senior debut.

Still in the early stages of his international career, he will be keen to improve on his performance against Tunisia, having been hauled off after 62 minutes.

Zimbabwe - Khama Billiat

Callisto's side will not be able to rely upon the element of surprise when they take on Senegal, but they will look to Khama Billiat to orchestrate their attack.

Billiat fired four shots on target against Algeria and completed 23 passes in the opposition half, making him an important part of their attacking line-up.

 

KEY OPTA STATS

- Senegal registered just two shots on target in their match against Tunisia; they scored with both of them (2-0 win).
- The only previous AFCON encounter between Senegal and Zimbabwe saw the former win 2-0 in the 2006 group stage.
- Senegal come into this game on the back of their first AFCON clean sheet in 15 outings, while Zimbabwe are enjoying a two-game unbeaten run in the tournament (W1 D1); their longest such sequence in the AFCON.