Mane heads Senegal defence of Africa Cup of Nations crown




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Defending champions Senegal have to show that having won the Africa Cup of Nations with players playing in the biggest European leagues they can now triumph with those competing in the Saudi championship, said head coach Aliou Cisse.

Cisse on Friday selected a quintet of stars who were pivotal to their maiden Africa Cup of Nations success in 2022 but who now ply their trade in Saudi Arabia.

Previously Cisse had refused to select players playing there due to the low quality of the league in comparison to the European leagues.

However, stars of the calibre of talismanic forward Sadio Mane, goalkeeper Edouard Mendy and centreback Kalidou Koulibaly have moved there once the Saudis loosened the purse strings this year.

“We showed we were capable of winning the title when we had players in the major European championships,” Cisse told a press conference.

“Now we also must show we can win it with players who play in Saudi Arabia.”

Cisse, 47, said he and the squad were as hungry as before the 2022 success in Cameroon to add a second crown.

Cisse, who as a player finished on the losing side in the 2002 final, and Senegal are bidding to become the first side to defend the title successfully since Egypt won their third in a row in 2010.

“We have just the one star,” he said referring to having won the title just once.

“We are keen to win again, to continue winning it.”

Senegal have been drawn in Group C alongside Cameroon, Guinea and Gambia.

The biennial tournament is being hosted by Ivory Coast and runs from January 13 to February 11.

Squad

Goalkeepers: Edouard Mendy (Al Ahli/KSA), Seny Dieng (Middlesbrough/ENG), Mory Diaw (Clermont/FRA)

Defenders: Kalidou Koulibaly (Al-Hilal/KSA), Abdou Diallo (Al-Arabi/QAT), Abdoulaye Seck (Maccabi Haifa/ISR), Abdoulaye Niakhate (Troyes/FRA), Moussa Niakhate (Nottingham Forest/ENG), Fode Ballo Toure (Fulham/ENG), Youssouf Sabaly (Real Betis/ESP), Ismail Jackobs (Monaco/FRA), Formose Mendy (Lorient/FRA)

Midfielders: Nampalys Mendy (Lens/FRA), Idrissa Gueye (Everton/ENG), Pape Sarr (Tottenham/ENG), Pape Gueye (Marseille/FRA), Krepin Diatta (Monaco/FRA), Pathe Ciss (Rayo Vallecano/ESP), Cheikhou Kouyate (Nottingham Forest/ENG), Lamine Camara (Metz/FRA)

Forwards: Sadio Mane (Al Nassr/KSA), Habibou Diallo (Al Shabab), Iliman Ndiaye (Marseille/FRA), Ismaila Sarr (Marseille/FRA), Nicolas Jackson (Chelsea/ENG), Boulaye Dia (Salernitana/ITA), Abdallah Sima (Rangers/SCO)

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AFP