Senegalese football fans based in the UK have decided where their loyalties lie as they gear up for Sunday’s World Cup clash which will send either Senegal or England out of the tournament.
The Three Lions’ 3-0 win over Wales secured them a spot in the knockout stages against Senegal, who became group A runners-up with a 2-1 victory over Ecuador on Tuesday.
Veronique Sow is from Senegal and will support them against England but has lived in Sutton, south London, for five years and said she expects “a very tough match” on Sunday, which her close friend and the team’s injured star, Sadio Mane, is set to miss.
“He’s very sad because the World Cup is a very, very big competition,” the 31-year-old, who works for music streaming company Deezer, told the PA news agency.
“He’s our best player… But we are doing quite well without him. And that’s why everyone is shocked because we are playing very well without him.
“Whatever the outcome of the match, I will be happy because Senegal is my country and England is my adoptive country.”
Ms Sow and Mane first met when she was working for the Senegalese Football Federation 10 years ago.
She is in Qatar and has tickets for Sunday’s match, which she believes will go to penalties after a 1-1 draw before Senegal clinch a spot in the quarter-finals.
Ms Sow explained that her husband, who is British, will also support Senegal – but maintained England will gain her support if they triumph.
“It’s definitely my second home because when the competition started, I was sharing pictures of England and Senegal as well,” she said.
“I support Senegal and England but for this game, I have made a choice and I will support Senegal.
“If we lose, I will come back and then support England for the rest of the World Cup.”
Aziz Ndiaye, 52, is also from Senegal but holds dual citizenship as he has lived in the UK since 1996 when he came to study at the University of Westminster.
Mr Ndiaye, an accountant based in Greenwich, told PA he is “pretty confident” Senegal will win but described conflicting family ties as his 11-year-old son, Jules, will back England.
“He might not have supper, depending on the results,” Mr Ndiaye joked.
“I would rather not play (England) because they are my two countries, but it’s football.
“I’m feeling pretty confident, even though we’ve been given 1% of a winning chance against England.”
Mr Ndiaye added that if Senegal were to exit the competition, he would support England.
He has not yet decided where he will watch the match – which he predicts will finish 2-1 to Senegal – but said many of his Senegalese friends in London will tune in.
“People are very excited,” he said.
“Hopefully there will be a good turnout… I’ve got my Senegal shirt here, I’ve also got my flag ready.
“Bring on Sunday.”
Faty Kane, who is Senegalese and lives in Whitley Bay near Newcastle, told PA she is “totally confident” Senegal will beat England.
“We are the African champions so it would be sad if we were to go out so soon,” the 39-year-old founder of womenswear label Tarunah said.
“I think we will have to show that we are not the African champions for nothing.”
Mrs Kane thinks it will be 1-0 to Senegal but hopes her team scores even more goals.
Despite being sad star player Sadio Mane is injured, she said: “I am totally confident that they will win, especially after their performance in their last game.”
Mrs Kane said her husband Steve, 41, who works for a charity, is British and whose family is from Scotland, is a “proper football fanatic” and will want England to win.
However, he will “still be happy” if Senegal win and his family are supporting the Senegalese team.
As for the couple’s children, Mrs Kane said they have a fairly diplomatic stance, saying “we want England and Senegal to win”.
“They were quite loyal to the Senegalese team and then when we told them that Senegal would play England, they did not know who to support – I think they just want both teams to win,” she added.
Their children share their names with two of Senegal’s top players.
Daughter Sadio, four, shares her name with Mane and son Kalidou, three, shares his name with captain Kalidou Koulibaly.
The family will tune into the match wearing their football shirts and waving flags and, despite saying there is no chance of a rivalry brewing, Mrs Kane said she might need to think of a bet against her family if her match prediction comes true.