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Can Senegal fire without Sadio Mane?

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Senegal celebrate winning teh AFCON. PHOTO/CAF
  • Senegal start their World Cup campaign on Monday against Netherlands
  • They will be without striker Sadio Mane who is injured
  • Senegal are the reigning African champions

African champions Senegal begin their campaign in the FIFA World Cup on Monday evening when they take on Netherlands. However, they will be without their talismanic striker Sadio Mane who has been ruled out of the World Cup due to injury.

Mane underwent surgery in Munich last week after suffering a foot injury on November 8 during Bayern Munich’s huge victory over Werder Bremen.

Mane scored the winning penalty that sent them to the World Cup against Egypt and his influence in the team is undeniable. However, an injury suffered while playing for his club Bayern Munich means he can only be a spectator from his television set in Munich.

Coach Alliou Cisse while admitting Mane’s absence will be a huge blow for his side, notes that it will be an opportunity for another player to shine.

Sadio

Sadio Mane. PHOTO/Courtesy

Sadio Mane is big

“Of course we know how big Sadio is, but we have a huge squad and I know someone will step up and though we cannot replace him directly, I know we will be okay,” the coach said.

Coach Cisse says the team has prepared well and will look to give in their best representation of their country and the African continent. The tactician remains confident that with the squad at his disposal, they can beat the Dutch.

Netherlands skipper Virgil van Dijk, who is a former teammate of Mane at both Southampton and Liverpool, says he feels sad that the striker will not be part of the World Cup.

“I called him the next day and obviously I wanted to know how he was. There were so many rumours coming out. As a friend I wanted to know how he was. It wasn’t the best news he has had and unfortunately he won’t be able to make this tournament,” van Dijk said in the pre-match press conference.

“I feel sad for him. I know how hard he worked for this and he has been important for Senegal so he is going to be a big miss for them,” he added.

Dutch coach Louis van Gaal also said he was disappointed Senegal will be without Mane.

Extraordinary player

Louis van Gaal

Louis van Gaal. Photo/Sporting News

“I think that Mane is an extraordinary player. I wanted him at Manchester United, when he was still at Southampton, so I am a fan of Mane. He can break open a match and I would say that Senegal will really miss him,” the coach added.

Senegal are however looking to lift off the dark cloud of missing Mane and put an impression in their first match against the Dutch who return to the World Cup after missing the 2018 showpiece in Russia.

The current squad have been likened to the ‘golden generation’ which reached the quarter finals of the 2002 showpiece.

They won the African Cup of Nations title for the first time ever and have been tipped to do well at the World Cup under coach Cisse who has just been recently handed a new improved contract.

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