He is one of the most decorated players to ever come out of Senegal. The mere mention of the name Sadio Mane sends shivers among a number of teams. This is because Mane is a certified performer and a game changer at that.
He is quick and posses great goalscoring skills that make him a valuable asset for every team he step’s out for.
The Senegalese are lucky to have him in their ranks and with him playing, Senegal is one team that will pose a major threat to other teams as the tournament progresses. They are being seen by many as favourites to lift this year’s trophy.
Senegal went to their opening AFCON match against Tanzania without Mane but that did not bother the Terenga Lions as they ran out 2-0 winners over the Taifa Stars.
Mane missed the Tanzania clash following two bookings in their previous qualifying matches against Equatorial Guinea on 17 November and Madagascar on 23 March.
Mane is set to make his return to the starting 11 when Senegal take on Algeria in her next match before taking on Kenya in her final group clash.
Ahead of the Kenyan encounter, Chemelil Sugar assistant Coach Charles Odera believes that Mane’s return will be a blessing in disguise for the Harambee Stars.
Odera believes that with Mane in the Senegal line up, Senegal will not play as a unit as all eyes will be on the Liverpool star. Odera therefore believes that with this, Kenyan defenders will have an easy task as they will only have to deal with Mane.
“If Mane plays, his team will want to play all the balls to him and even Mane can turn out to be selfish in the match against Kenya you never know. That would be easy for Kenya to defend and prevent him from wreaking havoc. You saw how they played as a unit against Tanzania and Mane’s return could change that given the attention that will be on him,” Said Odera.
The Coach also expressed his optimisim that Kenya will make it to the knockout stages despite losing her opening match against Algeria.
“We need to pick just enough points from the remaining matches and I believe we can win against Tanzania and fight for even a draw against Senegal. Stars are capable and I have no doubt in mind that they doubt their own abilities too,” he added.
“There is no more pressure, after the opener, as is the case in many tournaments, teams tend to grow in confidence in subsequent matches and that can help in going for points in the other two matches. Like in the first half (against Algeria), we were a bit under pressure but we grew well into the game in the second half.” he concluded.