Sadio Mané misses the soccer World Cup. Four days before Senegal’s World Cup kicked off, team doctor Manuel Afonso announced the end of FC Bayern’s attacking player. The MRT on Thursday in Munich showed that “the development is not as favorable as we had imagined”. National coach Aliou Cissé initially called Mané into his squad despite his right fibula head injury. Cissé said last week that “everything necessary will be done to allow Sadio to recover”. At least for the further course of the tournament after the opening game against the Netherlands next Monday, Cissé was “really optimistic” – instead, according to team doctor Afonso, an operation is now probably necessary.
The African champions now have to do without Africa’s footballer of the year. In Group A, Senegal meet hosts Qatar (November 25) and Ecuador (November 29) in addition to the Netherlands. Mané was injured in the penultimate Bundesliga game before the World Cup break against Werder Bremen (6-1), preceded by a seemingly harmless duel with Amos Pieper. Mané’s coach Julian Nagelsmann suspected bad shortly afterwards. “It’s clear that Senegal would like him to play,” said the Bayern coach. However: “If he’s in pain, he won’t be able to play, even if the association would like that.” There are still nine weeks for Bayern Munich before the start of the winter break at RB Leipzig.
Mané (30) is a national hero in Senegal, having scored 33 goals and assisted 20 more in 92 international matches. He led his country to their first-ever Africa Cup of Nations triumph in February and then to the World Cup in March – the former Liverpool striker converting the winning penalty in each of their two games against Egypt. After Mané’s injury, even President Macky Sall worried about the football player. “Sadio, heart of a lion! My whole heart is with you,” wrote Sall: “God bless you!”
Mané is not the only exceptional footballer who will be missing in Qatar. World champions France in particular have to do without top players. N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba are among them – and recently Leipzig striker Christopher Nkunku. The German team of national coach Hansi Flick is missing Nkunku’s club colleague Timo Werner, record world champions Brazil flew into the desert without Philippe Coutinho. Argentina has to make up for the short-term absence of former Stuttgart player Nicolas Gonzalez.
Other players are injured or have just recovered, including Canada’s Alphonso Davies, South Korea’s hopeful Heung-Min Son, France’s world footballer Karim Benzema and Belgium’s striker Romelu Lukaku. The fear of injuries also accompanied the last preparatory games. “Everyone had a little bit in the back of their minds about coming out of the game healthy,” said Flick after the tough 1-0 win against Oman on Wednesday.