News that Senegalese forward Sadio Mane will be sidelined from the Qatar 2022 World Cup following a leg injury, has sparked concern — and frustration — about the team’s chances as the tournament opens on Sunday.
Mane’s injury is a crushing blow to the Teranga Lions’ run at the World Cup trophy as Senegal’s first match against the Netherlands on Monday approaches.
As news of the two-time African Player of the Year’s injury circulated globally, fans took to social media to express worry and sadness regarding the 30-year-old’s condition.
Devastating news to hear Sadio Mane has not recovered and will miss the World Cup.
Red or former Red, You’ll Never Walk Alone. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/xCD31xu6mm
— Samuel (@SamueILFC) November 17, 2022
Ugh, that’s a bummer https://t.co/4TrY9jgy7y
— Connor Wilton (@ConnorJayWilton) November 17, 2022
sadness 🙁 https://t.co/QmIeXRQNm8
— Vivek Jacob (@vivekmjacob) November 17, 2022
Many wished Mane a speedy recovery as others lamented that his absence could turn out to be “devastating for Senegal”.
Devastating for Senegal. I had them advancing out of the group stage, I think most people agreed.
I can’t pick them now. This is why you don’t place bets before the tournament starts.
Sorry Sadio. Get well soon 🙁
— Jesse Huber (@plebfootball) November 17, 2022
Sadio Mane missing the 2022 World Cup is saddening, his absence will have an impact on the team cos he’s a force to reckon with; Hopefully he gets to participate in the next. Wishing Senegal nothing but the best of luck in the forthcoming tournament. Hope they do Senegal proud.
— Daniel Regha (@DanielRegha) November 17, 2022
Mane sustained an injury to his right fibula during a match for FC Bayern Munich against Werder Bremen in a German Bundesliga game earlier this month, 11 days before the tournament was slated to commence.
Bayern, went on to win the match 6-1. Club officials previously said Mane had sustained minor nerve damage and speculated that he would recover in time for the World Cup.
On Thursday, however, Senegal’s team doctor announced Mane would not be playing in the World Cup, warning that he required immediate surgery.
“Unfortunately, today’s MRI shows us that the improvement is not as favourable as we imagined and unfortunately, we have to withdraw Sadio from the World Cup,” said team doctor Manuel Afonso.
By Thursday evening, Bayern Munich confirmed that the ex-Liverpool forward had successfully undergone surgery, stating doctors had reattached a ruptured tendon to his right fibula. They added that Mane will return to Munich to begin rehabilitation in a few days.
ℹ️ Sadio Mané underwent successful surgery in Innsbruck on Thursday evening. He will therefore no longer be available to play for Senegal at the World Cup.
All the best for your recovery, Sadio! ❤️
— FC Bayern Munich (@FCBayernEN) November 17, 2022
A number of football fans also took the opportunity to blast FIFA for holding a World Cup in the middle of club football season.
The worst decision FIFA made was hosting a WC during mid-season. Now look 🥲 https://t.co/AfTccL4D7E
— Shazi (@NkosinathiShazi) November 17, 2022
The problem is leagues continued upto a few days before the World Cup. Very strange….Major Leagues were supposed to stop during the last week of October, around three weeks before World Cup as is the traditional case
— Takudzwa Chinakidzwa 🇿🇼 (@TakuChinaz) November 17, 2022
Mane has not yet publicly commented on his injuries.
The forward was a driving force in Senegal’s World Cup qualifying victory over Egypt in March. He scored the winning penalty at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon in February, as well, also over Egypt.
Before his injury, some football experts had declared Senegal was Africa’s “best hope” at bringing home a World Cup in 2022 — largely due to Mane’s dominance.
“I think Senegal offers Africa’s best hope,” South African football commentator Mark Gleeson told Al Jazeera earlier this month. “I hope that they can get to the quarter[finals], but it depends who they have to play, of course, in the round of 16. I do see them going through, and I think they’ll be the only African side to do so.”
Without the star forward, it is unclear how Senegal — which are nevertheless stacked with a number of players, who have established themselves in Europe, such as Edouard Mendy, Idrissa Gueye, Cheikhou Kouyaté, Ismaila Sarr, Abdou Diallo and Boulaye Dia — will fare.
“Senegal is going to Qatar with the ambition to win and that is our mentality,” Senegal defender Kalidou Koulibaly previously told Al Jazeera.
Senegal sent the football world into a frenzy during their World Cup debut in 2002 when they upset France to qualify for the quarter-finals, becoming only the second African team to do so at the time.
At the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the team had an underwhelming performance, however, as it became the first team in tournament history to be eliminated for disciplinary reasons.