Sadio Mane: Experience will stand Senegal in good stead for final

Senegal’s experience of playing in the last Africa Cup of Nations final will be a “good asset” for them in Sunday’s title decider, said forward Sadio Mane.

Senegal, who beat Burkina Faso 3-1 on Wednesday to reach the final, have yet to win the continental title but came close in Cairo in 2019.

“Experience is a good asset,” said Mane, who scored Senegal’s third on Wednesday.

“I think that has always been the case since the start of this tournament. We suffered so much with a lot of Covid cases and several injuries too.

“We had a very difficult time but with our experience we kept calm until we recovered the whole group.

“We played a final last time, so we have experience and we will try to win this trophy.”

Senegal were also runners-up in 2002, the year they went to the World Cup in Japan and South Korea and beat holders France in the opening game and became just the second African country to reach the quarterfinals.

The comparisons between that generation and the current side have increased as Senegal progressed through the tournament.

“There are a lot of leaders in this team because we have a lot of great players and a lot of mature players. Everyone is making a contribution so that the team can move forward,” added Mane.

In a related development, Mane has fired a warning to their rivals after he inspired the Lions of Teranga to the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) final.

The world-class winger warned that they are looking to win the AFCON title against whoever they will face in the final.

“It shows you the momentum we have. We knew it was not going to be at all easy to get to two straight Afcon finals,” Mane said on BBC after the match.

“But the most important for us now is to go all the way and win it, whoever we come up against. We were up against a really good Burkina side who caused us a lot of problems.”

The score was 0-0 at half-time, but Senegal proved too strong for their West African rivals after the restart with Abdou Diallo, Idrissa Gueye and Mane all scoring for Aliou Cisse’s side.

“We expected a tough game and it was, but we stayed calm and created lots of chances. I think we deserved to win,” he continued.

“I think you can see on my face how happy I am, which is completely normal. I am really proud personally and very happy for myself, my teammates and the country.” – Reuters

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