Tuesday Jun 19, 2018. 09:00
Senegal coach Aliou Cisse has tipped Sadio Mane to inspire the Teranga Lions ahead of their 2018 World Cup opener against Poland this evening.
Cisse captained Senegal’s team at the 2002 World Cup and led them to the quarterfinals on tournament debut.
Sixteen years later the Teranga Lions are being tipped to surprise again, though Cisse says comparisons between the two generations are not necessary, adding that this team’s superstar, Sadio Mane, is a “unique” talent.
“Sadio Mane is a unique player and he cannot be compared to any other Senegal player, even the major ones we’ve had in the past,” said Cisse, who spent four seasons in the Premier League with Birmingham and Portsmouth.
“And despite everything that has happened for him over the last two years, he hasn’t changed – he’s just as humble as he was when I first met him at the 2012 Olympics.
“Senegal isn’t only Sadio Mane, though, he has a good team built around him and I think it should be a little plus for him that we’re all behind him.”
When asked by the media if the Liverpool attacker had a chance to become one of the world’s best players during this tournament, Cisse said: “He’s already one of the best – you can’t say he’s not.
“He plays for one of the most iconic clubs, one of the best in Europe, and he’s top-notch for them.
“He’s absolutely unique because he is so unpredictable, that’s what makes him great – he can make the difference with a pass or shot. He’s already one of the best.”
Senegal and Poland will meet at the Otkritie Stadium in Moscow for their Group H battle, with kick-off set for 17h00 CAT.