Senegal, with more than just Mané, has high World Cup hopes

Oct 23, 2022, 2:18 PM | Updated: Oct 24, 2022, 2:28 am

FILE - Senegal's Sadio Mane tries to shoot during a qualifying soccer match against Egypt, for the ...

FILE - Senegal's Sadio Mane tries to shoot during a qualifying soccer match against Egypt, for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 at Cairo International stadium in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, March 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)

(AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)

              Senegal's Sadio Mane looks on during the World Cup 2022 - Africa playoff soccer match between Senegal and Egypt at at Stade Me Abdoulaye Wade stadium in Dakar, Senegal, Tuesday, March 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Stefan Kleinowitz)
              FILE - Senegal's goalkeeper Edouard Mendy poses with his best goalkeeper of the tournament awards after winning the African Cup of Nations 2022 final soccer match against Egypt at the Olembe stadium in Yaounde, Cameroon, Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba, File)
              FILE - Senegal's Sadio Mane tries to shoot during a qualifying soccer match against Egypt, for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 at Cairo International stadium in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, March 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)

Senegal has way more than just Sadio Mané.

Armed with players from across Europe’s top leagues, the current Senegal team is, for many, the best from Africa ever to go to a World Cup. That has raised hopes that Senegal can provide the continent with its first World Cup semifinalist.

Mané is clearly the biggest star and leads from the front, but goalkeeper Édouard Mendy, defender Kalidou Koulibaly, midfielders Idrissa Gueye and Cheikhou Kouyaté, and forward Ismaila Sarr show Senegal has high quality throughout and goes to Qatar having already partly delivered on its promise by winning its first African Cup of Nations title in February.

The African champions will give everyone a better idea of where it sits in world soccer and if it has the potential to make history when it plays the Netherlands in its opening game at the World Cup. It also faces host Qatar and Ecuador in Group A.


Senegal finally broke its big tournament curse by winning this year’s African Cup in Cameroon.

Senegal had been burdened with the tag of being the best team never to win an African Cup before Mané scored the title-winning penalty in a shootout to beat Egypt.

Decades of underachievement ended and the timing couldn’t have been better with the World Cup around the corner, which will be Senegal’s third appearance. Although Senegal didn’t play silky soccer at the African Cup, the team held its nerve and Mané was in-form, providing a huge confidence boost for coach Aliou Cissé and his squad.


Mendy and Koulibaly might be as important for Senegal as Mané.

The Chelsea teammates are among the best in the world in their positions and give Senegal the kind of solidity it will need at the World Cup, where its defense will be given far sterner tests than at the African Cup.

Senegal has lost right back Bouna Sarr for the World Cup because of injury but has enough depth for that not to be a major problem.


At 30 years old, Mané is probably at his peak.

But Africa’s best player of his generation is facing his last chance to make a big impact at the World Cup. He’s made a smooth transition from the Premier League to the Bundesliga and is already scoring regularly for Bayern Munich.

Senegal has a variety of options up front to support Mané, including the speedy Ismaila Sarr, Boulaye Dia and the 6-foot-4 Famara Diédhiou. Finding the combination that brings out the best in Mané will be crucial to Senegal’s hopes of going far in Qatar.


Senegal’s best World Cup performance was its debut in 2002, when it beat defending champion France in one of the tournament’s great upsets and became only the second African team after Cameroon in 1990 to reach the quarterfinals.

This Senegal team has a living reminder of the country’s top sporting moment in Cissé, the current coach who captained that 2002 World Cup squad.

Cissé has been in charge since 2015, a rare example of an international coach being given an extended period of time to build. He repaid that faith by finally winning the African title this year, something he couldn’t do as captain.

The 2002 World Cup players were often referred to as Senegal’s golden generation but the squad Cissé coaches 20 years later is by all accounts better, it just needs to show it.


Associated Press writer Babacar Dione in Dakar, Senegal, contributed to this report.


AP World Cup coverage: and

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

3 months ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

3 months ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

3 months ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

3 months ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

3 months ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

3 months ago

Senegal, with more than just Mané, has high World Cup hopes