Unfortunately, they could not, and now, for the first time since 1982, Africa will not have a representative in the knockout stage of a World Cup.
Japan qualify in second place from Group H despite losing to already eliminated Poland.
With Japan and Senegal posting an identical goal-difference and goal scored, the latter progressed via the Fair Play rule, having accumulated less yellow cards than the African nation.
Two slots in the round of 16 are up for grabs this afternoon and Senegal, Colombia and Japan will be vying for them.
Colombia, which reached the quarterfinals four years ago in Brazil, finished atop its group and is the fourth South American team to advance.
Colombia, who finished as group winners with six points will face a last-16 match against the runners-up in Group G where England and Belgium battle for supremacy later on Thursday.
But the atmosphere amongst the nearly 42,000 people at Samara Arena picked up near the hour mark when Poland scored to push both teams above Japan in the table. "It led to the goals and now we have a good position in this World Cup", Colombia coach Jose Pekerman said after the victory. Teammate Radamel Falcao patted him on the back sympathetically as he headed to the sideline.
However, after consultation with the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), the referee chose to reverse his decision and did not award the spot-kick. Japan, content with a 1-0 defeat to Poland in the simultaneous match, was stalling because it would advance if the scores remained the same.
Mina rose highest in the box to power home his header pass Ndiaye in goal for Senegal. Sanchez received criticisms and a death threat, which is being investigated by Colombian authorities.
Group H has featured some of the most surprising and exciting football of the 2018 World Cup thus far.