Senegal look to fill Mane’s void with Ndiaye, Dieng

Krépin Diatta will step in for Mane. PHOTO/INTERNET 

What you need to know:

On paper, the Lions of Teranga looked to be in the best shape amongst the five African representatives in Qatar. 

Africa’s hopes of a stand-out performance at the Fifa World Cup in Qatar have dwindled fast since the announcement of Sadio Mane’s injury.

The Senegalese talisman will miss the championship after the MRI scan showed last week he won’t be able to recover in time for the tournament even if coach Aliou Cisse’s technical team had included him in the 26-man squad.

Painful as it is, the reigning African champions Senegal, will now wander through the desert challenge without their best player.

On paper, the Lions of Teranga looked to be in the best shape amongst the five African representatives in Qatar. 

And just three African teams have made the quarterfinal stage of the World Cup; Cameroon at Italia 1990, Senegal at Japan & South Korea 2002 and Ghana at South Africa 2010 editions.

Since winning the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon back in February, Mane, 30, has been Senegal’s best performing player evidenced by 11 goals in 23 matches in all competitions this season.

His teammates have struggled to maintain the form at club level over the past nine months; Édouard Mendy, Kalidou Koulibaly, Idrissa Gueye among others.

Cisse has often deployed Mane on the far left of the attacking formation with Boulaye Dia leading the line.

Mane’s absence leaves a void in terms of attacking prowess and leadership on the pitch which means Cisse must reinvent.   

Krépin Diatta could centre behind the main striker, also playing ahead of the holding midfield pair of Nampalys Mendy and Gueye.

Salernitana’s Dia will still lead with likely the more experienced Ismaïla Sarr starting right of him. On the left, Famara Diédhiou and Bamba Dieng are the options with the latter a quicker option.

Sarr and Diedhiou are the only members in Qatar with double digit goals for Senegal, both 10 apiece. Mane has scored 34 goals in 94 matches for his nation.

However, Cisse has another option in Iliman Ndiaye. He only debuted in June but his recent form with nine goals and two assists in 21 EFL Championship matches for Sheffield United make him a worthy choice.

Born in France, the 22-year-old Ndiaye has at one time been described as the ‘future Messi’.


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