Senegal star Sadio Mane has been ruled out of the World Cup due to a leg injury while playing for Bayern Munich.
The 30-year-old injured his right leg during Bayern’s 6-1 Bundesliga win over Werder Bremen last Tuesday.
Despite the injury, Mane was named in Senegal’s 26-man squad for the World Cup but the ex-Liverpool forward will miss Qatar after failing to recover.
On Tuesday, Senegal’s governing body said Mane would miss their “first game” of the tournament, but head coach Aliou Cisse must now prepare without his star man.
The reigning African Cup of Nations champions begin their World Cup campaign against the Netherlands on Monday.
This is followed by Group A games against hosts Qatar on November 25 and Ecuador on November 29.
Mane was instrumental in Senegal’s first AFCON victory in February when he scored the winning goal as the Teranga Lions beat Egypt in the final.
Then at the end of March, Mane scored again in the final as Senegal beat Egypt on penalties in a friendly to qualify for Qatar.
Who is Senegal’s biggest man now in Qatar?
The loss of Mane is a huge blow to Senegal’s hopes in Qatar and will provide a huge opportunity for others to step up in his absence.
There are leaders elsewhere on the pitch but the problem now is scoring goals without him. Ismail Sarr can help with that.
For much of Sarr’s tenure, he has been following in Mane’s footsteps. A graduate of the Generation Foot academy, like Mane, his first European club was Metz. He also impressed in the Premier League, scoring against Mane’s Liverpool at Watford.
But the 24-year-old is now available in the Championship with the Hornets. He has shown that he can do well, scoring against Senegal in the quarter-finals of last year’s Africa Cup of Nations. Can he be the hero that Mane was injured in?