Mane Urges Senegal To ‘Go All The Way’ And Lift Cup Of Nations

Senegal’s forward Sadio Mane (C) is challenged by Burkina Faso’s midfielders Adama Guira (L) and Gustavo Sangare during the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 semi-final football match at Stade Ahmadou-Ahidjo in Yaounde on February 2, 2022. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP

 

Sadio Mane hailed his Senegal teammates after they beat Burkina Faso 3-1 in Yaounde on Wednesday to reach their second consecutive Africa Cup of Nations final.

“It shows you the momentum we have. We knew it was not going to be at all easy to get to two straight AFCON finals, but the most important for us now is to go all the way and win it, whoever we come up against,” Mane said after scoring one goal and making another in the semi-final.

READ ALSO: CAF Sanctions Egypt, Morocco After AFCON Quarter-Final ‘Fight’

Abdou Diallo put Senegal ahead 20 minutes from time at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in Cameroon’s capital, before Mane set up the second goal for Idrissa Gana Gueye.

He then netted the late third himself after Blati Toure had pulled a goal back.

“We were up against a really good Burkina side who caused us a lot of problems,” the Liverpool star added.

“We expected a tough game and it was but we stayed calm and created lots of chances. I think we deserved to win tonight.”

Mane, who now has three goals at the tournament, could not keep the smile off his face as he looked forward to the chance to win the trophy.

“I think you can see on my face how happy I am which is completely normal. I am really proud personally and very happy for myself, my teammates, and the country.”

Africa’s top-ranked national team, Senegal lost to Algeria in the 2019 final in Egypt.

They will play either the hosts Cameroon or Egypt in Sunday’s final at the Olembe Stadium.

Those sides are the most successful nations in AFCON history with 12 titles between them, while Senegal have still never won the continental crown.

Asked who he preferred to face in the decider, Mane added: “We have no preference.”

AFP

Mane, Ndidi And Other Stars To Watch At The Cup Of Nations

A photo combination showing Mane, Ndidi, and Salah.

 

As the Africa Cup of Nations begins in Cameroon on Sunday, here are stars to watch out for at the tournament:

Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City and Nigeria)

File photo: Brazil’s forward Neymar (R) fights for the ball with the Super Eagles of Nigeria’s midfielder Wilfred Ndidi during a friendly international football match at the National Stadium in Singapore on October 13, 2019. Roslan RAHMAN / AFP

 

The Nigerian midfielder has been a mainstay for Leicester City following his move from the Belgian side, Genk, in 2017.

To date, the 26-year-old has played over 130 times for the FA Cup holders and was instrumental in their run to that trophy.

Aside from Ndidi’s tackling and defensive attributes, he also brings physicality to the game. His incredible work rate will prove handy for the Super Eagles on a quest for a fourth continental crown in Cameroon.

His performances for the Foxes have also seen him likened to some of the best midfielders in Europe.

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (Bayern Munich and Cameroon)

File photo: Bayern Munich’s striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting reacts after scoring the 7-0 during the German first division Bundesliga football match between FC Bayern Munich and VfL Bochum in Munich, southern Germany, on September 18, 2021. (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP)

 

Choupo-Moting was dismissed at times during his two-year stint at Paris Saint-Germain, where he was a back-up in attack to superstars Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. Yet he still popped up with some important goals and has netted 17 times in 44 appearances since signing for Bayern Munich in 2020.

The 32-year-old, who stands 1.91m tall, was born in Germany and notably played for Hamburg and Schalke at the start of his career before a stint in the Premier League at Stoke City.

Eligible for Cameroon through his father, he represented the Indomitable Lions at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups and captained them at the AFCON in 2015 and 2017. He did not go in 2017 when Cameroon won the trophy in Gabon but is the biggest name in the hosts’ squad this time as they look to win the trophy for the sixth time.

READ ALSO: [AFCON 2021] Cameroonians Ready For Football Fun

Sadio Mane (Liverpool and Senegal)

Sadio Mané 

 

Senegal are the leading African side according to the FIFA rankings and Liverpool forward Mane is their star player. A former African Footballer of the Year who also came fourth in the Ballon d’Or rankings in 2019, Mane will be hugely missed by Liverpool as he heads to Cameroon -– he has 10 goals this season for his club.

However, the 29-year-old is desperate to win African football’s biggest prize after Senegal lost to Algeria in the 2019 final. The West African country has never won the Cup of Nations.

Achraf Hakimi (Paris Saint-Germain and Morocco)

(From L) Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe, Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi, Paris Saint-Germain’s Moroccan defender Achraf Hakimi and Paris Saint-Germain’s Spanish midfielder Pablo Sarabia attend a training session at the Camp des Loges Paris Saint-Germain football club’s training ground in Saint-Germain-en-Laye on august 13, 2021. (Photo by Bertrand GUAY / AFP)

 

At 23, right-back Hakimi is starring for PSG having already played for Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, and Inter Milan, and is arguably the best-attacking full-back on the planet today. He will therefore be the man to watch in a Morocco side among the leading contenders to go all the way.

Hakimi, who joined PSG from Inter last July for 60 million euros ($71 million), is, in theory, a defender, but he is chiefly a key creative and attacking outlet down the right. Born and brought up in Madrid to Moroccan parents, Hakimi was just 18 when he scored on his competitive debut for the Atlas Lions.

Mohamed Salah (Liverpool and Egypt)

Salah 'Almost 100%' Certain To Play In Egypt Opener, Coach Says
File photo: Egypt’s forward Mohamed Salah gestures as he takes part in a training session at Ekaterinburg Stadium in Ekaterinburg on June 14, 2018, a day ahead of the team’s Russia 2018 World Cup Group A opening football match against Uruguay. Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP

 

Many scoffed when Salah came seventh in the final Ballon d’Or rankings in November. It could be argued there is no better player in the world right now than the 29-year-old forward, who has scored 54 times for Liverpool since the start of last season.

Jurgen Klopp’s side will miss him and Mane while they are gone for up to a month, but Salah carries the hopes and dreams of 100 million Egyptians on his shoulders. He is the headline act in a squad made up largely of home-based players as The Pharaohs chase a record-extending eighth African crown.

Salah played in the team that lost the 2017 final to Cameroon before losing to South Africa as hosts in the last 16 in 2019.

Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City and Algeria)Another former African footballer of the year, Mahrez captained Algeria to victory in 2019 and is again the star man as they look to defend their title.

The winger has been in fine form for Manchester City, with 13 goals in 25 games this season for the Premier League leaders. Now 30, Mahrez was born and brought up in the Paris suburbs but Algeria was the land of his late father’s birth and Riyad made his international debut just before the 2014 World Cup, not long after he first moved to England with Leicester City.

Sebastien Haller (Ajax and Ivory Coast)

File photo: Cameroon’s Bangou Tchamba (C) fights for the ball with Ivory Coast’s Serge Aurier (L) and Sebastien Haller (L) during the FIFA Qatar 2022 World Cup qualification football match between Ivory Coast and Cameroon at the Alassane Ouattara Ebimpe stadium Anyama on September 6, 2021. (Photo by Issouf SANOGO / AFP)

 

The tall 27-year-old striker has been one of the stars of this season’s UEFA Champions League, scoring 10 goals in the group stage for Ajax. He became just the second player to score in all six group games, following Cristiano Ronaldo in 2017.

Haller, who has 22 goals this season, joined Ajax last January from West Ham United for 22.5 million euros ($27.5m), calling time on a disappointing spell in England to return to the Dutch league, where he was based previously.

Born and brought up in the Paris suburbs, he played for France Under-21s but opted to represent the Ivory Coast –- the land of his mother’s birth -– after getting the call aged 26.

AFP