Senegal's forward Sadio Mane (C) and teammates take part in a training session of Senegal national football team on June 22, 2018 in Kaluga ahead of their football match against Japan during the Russia 2018 World Cup football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / ISSOUF SANOGO

PV Sports Desk : Senegal face Japan on Sunday at the World Cup fired up by an “ignorant” tweet by a British tycoon and reality television star that has become the talk of the team.

Along with Nigeria, a powerful Senegal side spearheaded by Liverpool striker Sadio Mane are flying the flag for Africa in Russia.

After battling to a 2-1 opening win over Poland in Group H, Aliou Cisse’s Senegal can take a major step towards the last 16 with victory over Japan in Yekaterinburg.

They unwittingly found themselves at the centre of a Twitter storm this cweek after businessman Alan Sugar tweeted a picture of the Senegal team with the caption, “I recognise some of these guys from the beach in Marbella”.

Alongside the picture, the billionaire Briton posted images of sunglasses and handbags for sale.

The Apprentice presenter took down the post and later apologised after being accused of racism, but the incident angered Senegal and could serve to further inspire them against Japan.

Ndongo Ndiaye, a former basketball player and now an adviser to Senegal
President Macky Sall, told The Times at the team’s base in Kaluga, south of
Moscow: “Everyone here is talking about this tweet, it has made headlines in
Senegal too.

“I think it is very ignorant from someone in his position,” said Ndiaye,
calling for Sugar to be sacked by the BBC.

“Of course, there must be freedom of speech but this was wrong and it is
hurtful to the players and people from Senegal.”

Livewire forward Mane is Senegal’s prime dangerman, but it was the raw
pace and power of Mbaye Niang and a mistake by Poland goalkeeper Wojciech
Szczesny that clinched victory on Tuesday after Thiago Cionek’s own goal put
the Africans ahead.

Cisse and his men are now dreaming of a repeat of their run to the
quarter-finals in 2002 — he captained that team.

“Of course we represent our country but I can also guarantee that the
whole of Africa is supporting us,” said Cisse, the only black coach at the
World Cup.