Football analysts believe Senegal are Africa’s best chance of doing well at the World Cup, despite the loss of attacker Sadio Mane, who will miss the competition due to a leg injury.
Mane, who was runner-up to Karim Benzema in the Ballon D’Or voting for the world’s greatest player this year, suffered a right fibula injury while playing for Bayern Munich and was forced to withdraw from the cup.
The “Lions of Teranga,” the defending champions of the Africa Cup of Nations from Senegal, have won all four of their pre-tournament exhibition games in Qatar.
Senegal will face the Netherlands today before facing host nation Qatar and Ecuador in Group A, so Mane’s absence may hurt their chances of moving on, but they are still a quality team.
“Senegal’s team is exceptionally well-balanced and includes players from elite clubs. And I’m confident they can accomplish the same for their nation “Colin Udoh, a sports writer from Nigeria, spoke to Reuters.
“I do believe that Senegal will likely advance the farthest, especially with the absence of Sadio Mane. They also have a team that is highly winnable.”
Although they have tougher competition in their groups, Cameroon, Ghana, Morocco, and Tunisia are also vying to become the first African side to advance into the quarterfinals of a World Cup.
Yaya Toure, a former Ivory Coast and Manchester City midfielder, claimed that only Senegal had it easy in all of the tough groups that African teams are in.
Mane has served as Senegal’s talisman, netting the go-ahead penalty in the country’s February World Cup qualifier and six weeks later in the Africa Cup of Nations final in Cameroon. They defeated Egypt on post-game penalties on both occasions.
Although Senegal has other star players, such as defender Kalidou Koulibaly and Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, it may be difficult for them to win the trophy, according to Udoh.
Senegal would probably face heavyweight teams like Brazil or Argentina in the knockout rounds if they advanced past the group stage B.
We want to advance to the semifinals or even the championship game, but the trip will be exhausting, Toure said.
“One team on the continent will make us proud, of that I am certain.”