Sadio Mane recalls Senegal contract at AFCON that went against Liverpool wishes
Sadio Mane was the star man for Senegal at AFCON earlier this year, where they beat Mohamed Salah’s Egypt in the final of the tournament.
The former Liverpool star grabbed three goals during the tournament and scored the winning penalty kick in the final. But during the round of 16 game against Cape Verde, the Lions of Teranga could have suffered a major injury blow.
Mane injured himself while scoring a goal in a 2-0 win for Senegal. Due to concussion protocols, he was supposed to sit out of the quarter-final clash against Equatorial Guinea.
Liverpool wrote to FIFA to make sure their prized asset did not feature in that game. But as fate would have it, the winger played the whole 90 minutes and had an assist in a 3-1 win. Mane told Pro Direct Soccer France via Goal (h/t Liverpool Echo):
“Liverpool put pressure on the federation and wrote a letter to FIFA that I needed at least five days rest so that meant I was to miss the quarter-finals…”
“I called the federation president and told him we need to have a meeting because I have to play. I could give up my life. I said ‘I know I shouldn’t play but let us have a contract. It will be my responsibility, I will sign’. If I die, they have to say it is my fault. No one’s fault.”
That just shows the dedication Mane had to lead his team to the trophy for the first time in their history- which he managed to do successfully. It was heartbreak for Salah, but the Egyptians have won the trophy several times in their history.
All’s well that ends well
The contract surely was a weird proposition and no player should sign such an undertaking in such situations. There is a reason that concussion protocols exist and they cannot be taken lightly.
Thankfully, Mane reveals that the scans were safe and there was no controversy after that. It would have been a very tense moment before that, however.
“I said ‘coach, I know even you are scared. Just write a letter that says I played voluntarily in case I die or whatever happens’. Everyone was tense. I did not sign the paper but they finally said ‘no, no it’s not possible’ but I was ready to do it so the doctor said ‘Okay, let us do a scan in the morning the day of the match’.”
“In the morning, we did the scan, we sent it to the Confederation of African Football, they checked with the doctor, there was nothing so the doctor said ‘Okay, you can play’ because to see me sign a paper would be complicated for him as well. Thank God everything went well.”
The Reds did the right thing by writing that letter and ensuring the protocols were followed. Football is a sport- nothing to risk your life over.
Many would say the Senegalese team would have been the favourites to beat Equatorial Guinea without Mane as well. But then again, it’s a thing of the past and the Bayern Munich star would have no regrets about his decision in hindsight.
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He will now be looking to help the Bavarians retain their Bundesliga title once again next season. The Reds, meanwhile, have Luis Diaz down the left flank with Darwin Nunez expected to lead the line.