Every football coach wants to start the campaign of a championship on a high, reason they always assemble their best players available.
It won’t be the case for Senegal’s Aliou Cisse who will have to face Tanzania in their opening game of the 2019 Total Africa Cup of Nations without inspirational skipper Sadio Mane.
The 27-year-old Liverpool forward picked up two yellow cards in Senegal’s Afcon qualification games much as Cisse feels it won’t affect the side.
“His absence should not in any way bother us, certainly the presence of Sadio is beneficial but without him we remain strong. The Confederation of African Football has decided, so we will not linger,” Cisse told Senegalese media.
Mane, who won the Uefa Champions League with Liverpool earlier this month, was booked in Senegal’s 1-0 win away to Equatorial Guinea on November 17th, 2018 and picked another card in their 2-0 victory over Madagascar on March 23rd, 2019.
He is expected to play Senegal’s last two group matches against Algeria on June 27th and Kenya four days later in Cairo.
The 2019 edition in Egypt will be Mane’s third Africa Cup of Nations tournament and the second time he will miss Senegal’s opening match.
He also missed the Lions Terranga opener in the 2015 edition in Equatorial Guinea against Ghana, by the time, he was still recovering from a calf injury he sustained while playing for his former club Southampton.
Senegal are in search for their maiden AFCON title, their best performance being runners-up in 2002 after falling to Cameroon 3-2 in penalties following a goalless draw in normal time.