World Cup: Senegal rule Sadio Mane out for Qatar

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Senegal attacker Sadio Mane, arguably one of the best players on the planet, will miss the World Cup due to a right fibula injury, the team announced on Thursday.

The Bayern Munich man was forced off the pitch on Nov. 8 against Werder Bremen with a tendon issue. While he was still named to the World Cup squad with the team counting on him to play, it seemed like there was still a chance for him to be potentially involved in the knockout stage if the team could advance, but that idea came to an end with this announcement.  A replacement has not been named yet by the Senegal FA but the team has until 11 am ET on Sunday, Nov. 20 to finalize their roster. The tournament begins on Sunday, with Senegal facing the Netherlands on Monday. 

Mane helped guide the Lions of Teranga to the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations title, and the CAF champions were expected to advance from World Cup Group A ahead of the likes of Ecuador and hosts Qatar. But without the former Liverpool man, it’s difficult to see a path into the next round without a player who can take over a match on his own.

Mane has 34 goals in 93 games for the national team. Without him, the team will need a massive performance by Watford’s Ismaila Sarr, who has six goals and four assists in Championship play. Qatar have the advantage of being World Cup hosts and playing seven matches together since August as their entire team comes from the Qatar Stars League. Ecuador have one of the best defenses in the tournament and the Netherlands could be a dark horse team to win the whole thing.

The defense was already a concern for the African nation with the mixed form of Edouard Mendy and Kalidou Koulibaly for Chelsea, but losing their star attacker will likely be too big of a blow. Young Iliman Ndiaye will also be someone to look out for as the 22-year-old has been playing in a similar role for Sheffield United that Mane occupies for the national team,…

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