File photo of Sadio Mane.© AFP
Former Senegal star El Hadji Diouf said the team had suffered a “big loss” with African player of the year Sadio Mane ruled out of the World Cup. Team chiefs confirmed on Thursday that the forward would miss the tournament in Qatar after undergoing surgery on his lower right leg following an injury sustained while playing for Bayern Munich last week. “We’re going to miss Sadio because he’s a difference-maker,” said Diouf, a national team ambassador who was part of the Senegal side that reached the quarter-finals of the 2002 World Cup.
“But don’t forget we’ve been very strong because we also have (Edouard) Mendy, (Kalidou) Koulibaly, a great team.”
Mane scored the decisive penalty in a shootout as Senegal beat Egypt to win their first Africa Cup of Nations title in February. He did the same against Egypt a month later in their World Cup play-off.
The 30-year-old former Liverpool star also finished second in this year’s Ballon d’Or voting behind Karim Benzema.
“It’s true the absence of Sadio Mane is a big loss for us, our leader isn’t here,” said Diouf. “Mane had a lot to do with this team getting here.
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“But this team is a family, don’t forget that.”
He added: “We’ve got to work without him — Senegal have to show the whole world what the African champions can do.
“Some teams don’t want to play Senegal because we have a good team with experienced players.”
Diouf, a two-time African footballer of the year like Mane, said the Bayern forward would call his team-mates before their games and possibly even fly out to Qatar to support them.
Senegal begin their World Cup campaign against the Netherlands on Monday. They will also face hosts Qatar and Ecuador in Group A.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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