Senegal team-mate Seny Dieng labels Sadio Mane ‘the second-best player in the world’ after injury ruled Bayern Munich’s former Liverpool star out of the Qatar World Cup, speaking to 20Minutes.
To think, he came agonisingly close to making it, too.
The 2022 Ballon D’Or runner-up appeared to be on the mend after suffering the most ill-timed of injuries at Bayern Munich, only to be ruled out of the World Cup at the eleventh hour.
And Senegal side shorn of their talisman certainly lacked a bit of punch up top, countless promising openings breaking down as two late goals from Cody Gakpo and Davy Klaassen – plus a pair of Edouard Mendy mistakes – handed an unconvincing Netherlands side a 2-0 win in Group A.
SADIO MANE-LESS SENEGAL LOSE TO THE NETHERLANDS AT QATAR WORLD CUP
“His (absence from the tournament) is, of course, very tough,” says Dieng; the QPR goalkeeper who may now be pushing for Mendy’s spot ahead of Friday’s clash with hosts Qatar.
Sadio is the second best player in the world. He is down to earth, ambitious and obsessed with football. You see him in the weight room an hour before training, and again after the session. His diet is great, he does everything to optimize his performance. A machine.”
Mane inspired Senegal to glory at the 2022 African Cup of Nations at the expense of former Liverpool team-mate Mo Salah (who’s Egypt side they beat in a tense final). He also has 11 goals and four assists since that £35 million move to Bayern Munich.
Senegal should still have enough firepower to defeat a severely-limited Qatar side next time out, however. Despite their obvious lack of ruthlessness against the Dutch, Boulaye Dia, Idrissa Gana Gueye and Pape Gueye all still forced rookie ‘keeper Andries Noppert into a trio of fine saves.