Despite his absence, Sadio Mane remains a key influence on Senegal’s World Cup campaign, with Kalidou Koulibaly revealing the forward is in constant contact with the national team.
After undergoing surgery for a leg injury sustained in a Bundesliga game against Werder Bremen on November 8, the Bayern Munich attacker was ruled out of Qatar 2022.
It’s been a cruel blow for both player and country, as Mane’s penalty was the winning touch in Senegal’s qualifying play-off against Egypt earlier this year.
Despite his absence, Koulibaly claims the forward is still a regular, virtual presence around the squad, helping to raise their game and focus.
“He’s always texting and calling us,” he said. “[He is] keeping the team’s mentality high.” He’s a vital member of our team.
“We understand how important he is to the team, and we hope he will continue [to communicate].” When he speaks, the entire country of Senegal listens.”
Senegal fell short in their first World Cup match against the Netherlands on Monday, falling 2-0 as a result of two late goals.
The Lions of Teranga are looking to get their campaign back on track ahead of Friday’s Group A match against hosts Qatar, with Koulibaly stating that loss has stung them.
“It’s very difficult to get your head around things after a defeat,” he added. “It’s a tough pill to swallow.” We got off to a bad start.”
Both concessions marked a difficult game for Senegal’s first-choice goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, who had a hit-or-miss season with Chelsea.
Blues teammate Koulibaly, on the other hand, is unconcerned about any drop in form, saying: “We’re brothers in arms.” He’s a vital member of our team.
“It’s natural to go through difficult times, but I believe we’re making a mountain out of a molehill.” Edouard, like us, knows what he needs to do tomorrow. I don’t think we should make a big deal out of it.
“Everyone must be confident in our roles; everyone must pitch in.” We will be able to overcome this obstacle only if we work together. “I’m not concerned.”