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England take unbeaten record against African teams into Senegal clash

Morocco were England's first African opponents at a World Cup in 1986 when a 0-0 draw at Monterrey proved a breakthrough result for African football.

England's Marcus Rashford with teammates during training . (REUTERS)

England will take an unbeaten record against African opposition into Sunday’s World Cup last-16 clash against Senegal – the first meeting between the two countries.

It will be England’s 21st clash against an African team, the last coming in March against Senegal’s regional rivals Ivory Coast, who a second-string England easily beat 3-0 at Wembley. But it was more than three decades ago that England had their most memorable encounter against an African side, fighting back from 2-1 down versus Cameroon to win 3-2 after extra time in the 1990 World Cup quarter-final.

The Indomitable Lions were seven minutes away from continuing their upset run at Italia ’90 when tough-tackling defender Benjamin Massing gave away a penalty by fouling Gary Lineker, who converted to take the game to extra time. Cameroon goalkeeper Thomas N’Kono then conceded a spot kick when he brought down Lineker who netted the penalty to put England in the semi-finals.

Morocco were England’s first African opponents at a World Cup in 1986 when a 0-0 draw at Monterrey proved a breakthrough result for African football. Morocco finished ahead of England in their group, but both went through to the next stage.

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There have also been goalless stalemates against Nigeria in Osaka in 2002 and Algeria in Cape Town in 2010.
England beat Egypt at the 1990 World Cup in Cagliari and Tunisia twice in the 1998 and 2018 editions. The 1998 clash in Marseille was overshadowed by fan violence with at least 32 people injured in three days of fighting between England supporters and gangs from Marseille’s north African community.

England’s other African opponents have been Ghana and South Africa in friendly internationals. If any England players need advice on scoring against an African team ahead of Sunday’s clash they need look no further than their manager Gareth Southgate.

He took all of 36 seconds to head home a David Beckham free kick against South Africa in a 2003 friendly in Durban that England won 2-1.

First published on: 01-12-2022 at 22:16 IST
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