Mame Niang: South Africa must beware Keita Balde

Mame Niang: South Africa must beware Keita Balde
Keita Balde (C) of Monaco in action against Dusko Tosic (L) of Besiktas during the UEFA Champions League Group G soccer match between AS Monaco and Besiktas Istanbul at Stade Louis II in Monaco, 17 October 2017. EPA/SEBASTIEN NOGIER

by Graeme Jackson

Wednesday Nov 08, 2017. 15:00

South Africa must not focus all their attention on Senegal’s Sadio Mane in the teams’ 2018 World Cup qualifiers this week, according to former PSL striker Mame Niang.

Niang, a Senegalese national who has spent a large portion of his career in South Africa’s top flight, insists the Teranga Lions are determined to secure qualification for the 2018 finals and has warned Bafana Bafana that Mane is not the only dangerous player in the West African side.

"I think Senegal are really coming for three points because I see the newspapers in Senegal are going crazy," Ning told Kick-Off.

"Having Mane back is obviously a big boost because the whole country was looking forward to that, but I think Bafana should be more worried about Keita Balde, who’s been the main threat in recent games.

"Obviously Diafra Sakho is back and so is M'Baye Niang, who made his debut in the 2-0 win over Cape Verde last month and played a key part in both goals. I think attacking-wise we could hurt Bafana, but they also have questions to ask."

Niang added, "I think it's going to be a tactical game. Senegal won't come and press Bafana out, that's my feeling. I'm guessing they will try to play Keita Balde and Sadio Mane on the break because they have pace.”

The prospect of a second World Cup appearance for the Teranga Lions has Senegal very excited, according to Niang.

"You must see the vibe in Dakar, people are going crazy there. We've qualified once and we went to the quarterfinal, and this is the generation that's as good as the one from 2002, so there's a lot of expectation on them," he explained.

"Everyone thought we could win the last AFCON [2017] but we lost to Cameroon on penalties and then they went on to win it, so they are confident about this team."

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