Aliou Cisse believes Senegal’s “commitment” helps to explain why his side became the first team in World Cup history to exit via fair play rules. Senegal’s 1-0 loss to Colombia in Thursday’s Group H closer meant Cisse’s side finished third in the final table, below Japan thanks to their count of six bookings compared to the four collected by the Asian nation. Fair play points are being used to settle groups for the first time at a World Cup, with Japan and Senegal finishing with the same number of points and identical goal difference and goals scored tallies.
Cisse was sanguine about Senegal recording a piece of unwanted history as they became the final African side to exit Russia 2018. “This is the law of football,” Cisse told a news conference. “We don’t qualify because of fair play, we have a fewer number of points in the fair play but today I’m proud of my team, their work and today Senegal does not qualify because we don’t deserve it. This is life. “This is one of the rules. We have a number of rules which are established in the regulations and we have to expect that. We would have preferred to be eliminated in another way, it’s a pity for us but this is how it works.
“We knew these were the regulations but we are fully committed and since we are committed maybe we get more yellow cards, it’s a pity. “I think my players were aware of the regulations but as I said Senegalese players are highly committed so its difficult to play well if you don’t play with commitment, I don’t know if this regulation is cruel or not but I can’t ask my players to go out on the pitch to avoid yellow cards.
“You have to be in contact with other players and it’s a shame it worked against us.”
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) June 28, 2018
Senegal were denied a penalty in the first half of their decisive defeat, referee Milorad Mazic initially pointing to the spot when Davinson Sanchez challenged Sadio Mane in the box. The official overturned his decision after consulting VAR, with Cisse unconvinced the right call was made over the incident.
“I think we could have scored a goal in the first half,” Cisse said. “When it’s working well in football you have to convert and score, we were not able to do it unfortunately then the penalty that was not awarded I will have a look at the VAR review but I’m not sure.
“We were not able to score, which would have been better for us. In the second half our team played somewhat better, I think we did control the match and I’m disappointed for my team and for this generation and these players who fight every single day for our country. “I will continue to encourage them to be with them because I’m sure we can expect many pleasant things in the future.”