This is it: the FIFA World Cup is beginning next week with the host country, Qatar, challenging Ecuador in the A group on Sunday 20. The football tournament, which is maybe the most subject to controversy over the last few years because of Qatar’s issues regarding human rights and global warming, will be the opportunity to see Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo one last time in a world cup with Argentina and Portugal. This being said, Senegalese fans have something else to worry about.
First considered as definitively unavailable for the competition due to his recent injury with Bayern Munich, Sadio Mané was finally summoned by Aliou Cissé, who hopes he will be able to play later in the word cup. No one really knows if Mané will play, but the way his injury evolves in the next couple of days will tell us more. Still, Mané is going to Qatar with an injury, and this raises questions.
What about taking a player who cannot play and who may miss most of the competition? Another fit player could have been summoned and been useful on the pitch. We all know how important Mané is for the Senegalese squad and even for the Senegalese people, and his presence is surely better for the mental health of both the team and the nation, but how is it going to be handled with the press and the media who will keep asking questions about the situation? Perhaps it will pollute the preparation of the team and focus attention on one single player to the detriment of the Lions’ performances…
Senegal fell in the A group with Qatar, Ecuador and the Netherlands. A whole country and continent are expecting them to pass and wipe out the affront of the 2018 Russian World Cup with no African team in round of 16.