Benin face Mané challenge in Senegal clash
Senegal boast one of the world’s most feared strikers in the shape of Sadio Mané and he will test his marksmanship on Wednesday night against the defensive skills of Benin’s back line. Mané’s goals fired Liverpool to the Uefa Champions League crown and the brink of the English Premier League title last season.
And during Senegal’s surge to the last eight, the 27-year-old has struck three times to become joint leader in the race for the Cup of Nations golden boot. Mané also has the unenviable accolade of having missed two penalties in the competition.
Senegal boss Aliou Cissé will be counting on his man’s precision as his side take on surprise quarter-finalists Benin.
Michel Dussuyer's men became the first team from the west African country to progress to the last eight at a Cup of Nations tournament.
They made the breakthrough despite not winning a game in the group stages. They drew against Ghana, Cameroon and Guinea Bissau. And after scraping through to the knockout stages as one of the four best third-placed teams, they drew 1-1 with Morocco and ousted them after a penalty shoot-out.
“I’m tempted to say that we might not have won any matches but we haven’t lost any either,” quipped Dussuyer on the eve of the clash against Senegal.
“It’s a knockout game and it will be a physical and tactical match,” he added. “In such games details count and we’re going to have to run for each other against one of the big teams.”
Cissé, despite Senegal’s stature as Africa’s top ranked team in the Fifa listngs, played down such overlord status. "I’ve been saying for a long time that there are no small teams on the African continent any more,” he insisted.
However, the 43-year-old conceded that Senegal are firmly installed as a favourite. “It's true that the defending champions Cameroon are not here and other big favourites such as Morocco and Egypt are no longer here,” he said. “Of course that gives us ideas and it gives us even more confidence to say, yes, maybe this year will be the one.
"But that's just hope and it won't be enough. We'll have to work very hard. This tournament has shown again that winning in Africa is difficult, winning in Africa is complicated and wrong are those teams who think that a match is already settled."
Daily news briefReceive essential international news every morningSubscribe