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AFP
July 18, 2019

Senegal star Mane out to press Ballon d’Or case

Sports

AFP
July 18, 2019

CAIRO: After a Champions League title with Liverpool, Sadio Mane is out to conquer a second continent in as many months as Senegal attempt to capture a first Africa Cup of Nations title against Algeria in Friday’s (today’s) final in Cairo.

Coming off his most prolific Premier League season, finishing in a three-way tie for the golden boot with 22 goals, and a European crown in June, Mane is the face of a new, successful generation and deserves recognition in the battle for the revered Ballon d’Or.

As the spearhead of a team that returned to the World Cup in 2018 after a 16-year absence, Mane has guided his side to the Cup of Nations final, the country’s second after 2002, with three goals and an assist at this tournament.

“He has something unique, nothing is predictable with him. There is no plan he can be held to. He can make the difference at any moment, with a dribble, a pass or a sudden attack,” said Senegal coach Aliou Cisse.

He has made Mane the focal point of a fearsome, yet ever-changing attack amid the shuffling of Ismaila Sarr, Keita Balde and Krepin Diatta around the consistent presence of Mbaye Niang and Mane. In the absence of the suspended Kalidou Koulibaly, the forward will be forced to assume added responsibilities to get his hands on the trophy.

Victory in two days’ time would put Mane in esteemed company as one of just a handful of players with both Champions League and Cup of Nations honours, joining the likes of Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o, Ivorian pair Salomon Kalou and Yaya Toure, Nigerians Finidi George and John Obi Mikel, Ghana’s Abedi Pele and Rabah Madjer of Algeria. It would also make a compelling argument for Mane’s Ballon d’Or prospects, with Liberia’s George Weah, in 1995, the only African to have claimed the prestigious prize.

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