Senegal enter the World Cup knowing they will be without star striker and all-time top scorer Sadio Mane, who suffered an injury the week before the tournament and will be out for several months.
This is their third appearance in the finals and although it will take a huge effort for them to equal their best result to date to reach the quarter-finals, there will be hope that a place in the final stage Knockout is not beyond them, especially if key centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly is in top form.
The first leg is a tough test against the Netherlands, the most sought-after team in Group A and semi-finalists eight years ago – although the Dutch failed to qualify for Russia a while ago four years.
They also have their own injury problems in attack with Memphis Depay a doubt, although he will play a part in the tournament even if he misses this opener.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the game.
When is the game?
Senegal will face the Netherlands on Monday, November 21 at 4 p.m. GMT (7 p.m. local time), at the Al Thumama stadium.
Where can I watch it?
This match will be broadcast by ITV 1, with a live stream available on the ITVX platform.
The Independentmeanwhile, will provide live updates of all build-ups, in-game action and post-game fallout.
What’s up with the team?
Senegal have been devastated by the news that star striker Sadio Mane has been ruled out of the tournament through injury. Surgery on Thursday to reattach a tendon means he will be out for up to four months and as such their top scorer will miss out on Qatar 2022. Boulaye Dia is likely to lead the attack, with Chelsea pair Edouard Mendy and Kalidou Koulibaly the rocks at the other end of the field.
For the Netherlands, there are two injury doubts for their opener, including key centre-forward Memphis Depay. He has a thigh problem which has kept him sidelined lately and is unlikely to be in any danger. Besides, midfielder Marten de Roon could be ruled out after missing Atalanta’s last domestic game before joining the team.
SEN – E Mendy, Sabaly, Koulibaly, Diallo, Ballo-Touré, P Sarr, N Mendy, Gueye, Diatta, Dia, I Sarr
NED – Pasveer, Timber, De Ligt, Van Dijk, Dumfries, F de Jong, Taylor, Ake, Gakpo, Bergwijn, Janssen
The Dutch to get off to a perfect start and clinch a victory by a few goals, although it takes them a while to get going and break their African opponents. Mane’s absence is simply too huge to overcome against a solid defense. Senegal 0-2 Netherlands.