Sadio Mane, Senegal’s record goalscorer, has been named in the country’s World Cup squad for the Qatar campaign beginning this month, despite suffering an injury to his right fibula earlier this week.
The prolific forward, who has scored 34 times in a Senegal shirt and is widely considered one of the greatest African players of all time, limped off the pitch during his club Bayern Munich’s 6-1 demolition of Werder Bremen on Tuesday.
But coach Aliou Cisse included the team’s talisman when he named his 26-man squad at a news conference in Dakar on Friday, saying he was confident Mane could recover in time to play at the tournament.
He said the Senegal team doctor, Manuel Afonso, flew to Munich to assess the extent of Mane’s injury, and was told he would not require surgery.
Cisse cited the case of Watford attacker Ismaila Sarr, who had been injured going into January’s Africa Cup of Nations finals, but was included in the squad and recovered after the first round to contribute to Senegal’s success in the tournament.
“We will do all in our power to ensure we can recover Mane in time to play,” Cisse added.
While Mane’s fitness will be crucial to Senegal’s hopes, this is not a one-man team.
Cisse kept faith with the majority of the squad that won the Cup of Nations in Cameroon, but did include Monaco defender Ismail Jakobs and Ilimane Ndiaye from Sheffield United, who each have one cap, as well as the uncapped Villarreal forward Nicolas Jackson.
“The players chosen correspond with our vision and philosophy. They are competitors of a high level,” said Cisse, who had his contract as coach extended by a further two years on Thursday.
After Senegal’s opening game of the tournament against the Netherlands on November 21, the Lions of Teranga will also take on hosts Qatar and Ecuador in Group A.
The Senegal squad in full: