Sadio Mane and Senegal’s World Cup worry: ‘He has to be there, he’s our Messi, Neymar, Mbappe’

With a penalty to win the Africa Cup of Nations and a final penalty to secure his country’s place at the World Cup in Qatar, Senegal’s hopes are pinned on Sadio Mane.

So it’s no wonder the Senegalese were concerned when the African footballer of the year was injured in Bayern Munich’s 6-1 win over Werder Bremen 13 days before the World Cup.

On Wednesday, French outlet L’Equipe reported that Mane will miss the World Cup and is expected to miss several weeks.

However, Bayern Munich didn’t go that far, confirming that the Ballon d’Or runner-up suffered a right fibula injury and will miss Saturday’s game against Schalke with further checks to come.

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The news prompted the country’s President McKisal to tweet: “Sadio, I wish you a speedy recovery. in the Bayern-Bremen game. As I told you: Sadio, Lionheart! I am with you with all my heart! God bless you! “

The German club is in touch with the Senegalese FA medical staff in a race against time for their World Cup opener against the Netherlands on November 21.

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If Mane misses the World Cup, it would be “catastrophic”, according to Abdou Diatta, a scout at Generation Foot Academy in Dakar, where Mane began his career.

“He played an extraordinary role for Senegal,” Diatta said. “If he’s not there, his teammates really don’t want to play. They want to be like him. He has the mentality of steel and encourages his teammates to perform.”

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At the moment, head coach Aliou Cisse, his team and the people of Senegal are waiting and praying.

“All Senegalese were shocked by the news,” said Senegalese journalist Sekou Saidi.

“Sadio Mane is everything to us. We owe everything we do in football to him. He is the most loved and admired man in Senegal because, apart from football, he is a good man. He has a a big heart.”


Mane received the AFCON trophy in February (Photo: Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images)

Mane was a national pride when he received his first-ever Socrates award at this year’s Golden Globes for his charitable work in his home country.

“I can’t even compare him to another current player,” said Cismedia’s Senegalese writer Aboubacry Ba.

“He is above the highest level, for us he is top and unique. He is irreplaceable on and off the field.”

The first reaction of the Senegalese people was worry, and the second reaction was disbelief.

“People refused to believe it was true – not because they didn’t believe the reporter, but because they didn’t want to play in the World Cup without him,” Saidi said. “It’s impossible. He’s our Messi, Neymar, Mbappe.”

Mane is far from his best form after a £35million move from Liverpool to Bayern in the summer.

In September, Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann said the striker was still adjusting to his new team, having not played regularly on the left under Jurgen Klopp last season, adding To say that the player “gives a lot for Liverpool” is perhaps an ominous hint that he has endured physical exhaustion in the intense Premier League and managed to reach the AFCON final this year.

According to Nagelsmann, the 30-year-old was left out of the starting line-up in Bayern’s 2-0 win over Hoffenheim in late October because he felt a lack of confidence. However, his performances have improved in recent weeks, with Cameroon international Eric Maxim Chopo-Motin taking the pressure off Mane to take the lead.

Despite his inconsistent form at the domestic level, the absence of Senegal’s all-time top scorer will seriously affect his country’s chances of success.

Senegal entered their third World Cup with big ambitions. It is believed that this is the best team in Africa and they can emerge from Group A (Netherlands, Ecuador and Qatar) and go beyond the quarter-finals.

“We only say that because we have Sadio Mane,” Ba said. “Senegal is not a good team without him, it becomes ordinary.

“Argentina would not be a strong team without Messi. England would not be the same team without Beckham.”

The last time there was such a serious injury scare in Africa was when Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba broke his elbow before the 2010 World Cup. Drogba underwent emergency surgery and played alongside the actor in the game, but Ba believes that Mane’s impact on the team is far greater than Drogba’s.

“It’s no exaggeration to say that Sadio Mane is 70 percent of Senegal’s strength,” Ba said.

“In terms of performance and personality, it’s obvious. This is a guy who can play even when he’s not in form.”

Without their talisman, Senegal could use Watford’s Ismaila Sarr on the left, Monaco’s Krepin Diata and Sheffield United’s Iliman N’Diaye on the right No. 10 striker, like Villarreal’s Braille Dia.

But it’s not just a case of replacing one player with another.

“Sadio Mane is irreplaceable in the heart of the Senegalese,” Bar said. “He represents everything. He’s not just a left-sided player who scores off the dribble. He’s pretty much a Senegalese team.”

(Photo: Harry Langer/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)


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