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AFCON FINALS: Mane, Mendy wants to win the Trophy for Coach and Country

Oviri Kelvin

The Captain of the Teranga Lions of Senegal, Sadio Mane, has said that they are in the final of the Total Energies Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) to win the trophy for their coach, Aliou Cisse.

Mane stated that Cisse is the most criticised coach in the tournament and he deserves to win the trophy this year.

Senegal, which is yet to win the trophy, came close to their maiden continental title in 2019 when the Teranga Lions played Algeria in the final but lost by a lone goal.

The Liverpool player, who will be playing against his fellow club’s teammate, Mohamed Salah, on Sunday, to slug it out for the AFCON 2021 title, noted that the highly-spirited Senegal national team wants to win the trophy for the country and their coach.

According to BBC Sport Africa, Mane said: “I believe this man, Aliou Cisse, deserves everything because he’s the most criticised coach I’ve ever seen in my life, but he never gives up.

“He trusts himself, he trusts the group. He has critics outside, but right here he is doing his job.

“Most importantly, we would like to win this for him and our country because he deserves it after everything he went through as a player for Senegal and now as the coach.

“It will be a great reward for everything he has given to his country,” Mane said.

Aliou Cisse who won 35 caps for his country, captained the Teranga Lions in World Cup 2002 where they defeated France in the opening games and proceeded to reach the quarter-finals of the competition.

Mane assured that the Senegal national team will not be distracted by the aura associated with the final of the competition but are working hard to ensure the team wins it to avoid a repeat of its AFCON 2019 ordeal.

“All the players know that we are very close to it now.

“Being close again to the trophy doesn’t matter. We still have to work hard to win because we’ve been in the final years ago and this time we must do everything not to let it slip. We have to win,” Mane added.

Also, the Senegal goalkeeper and winner of the FIFA best goalkeeper 2021, Edouard Mendy, exemplified Senegal’s coach saying he possesses the right qualities to lead the team to success in AFCON 2021.

According to Mendy, Aliou is an indigenous coach who has worked hard to build the team and communicates with a native dialect that everyone easily understands.

He acknowledged that they have been in the final of the AFCON competition before but do not want to take that route and as such, are prepared to win this time around.

According to BBC Sport Africa Mendy said, “We’ve been here before, but the manager has what it takes to lead us to success,” he told BBC Sport Africa.

Read also: Manchester Youngster, Anthony Elanga Rises to Prominence at Old Trafford

“What makes Senegal special under his guidance, I think, is the team spirit and the team effort.

“The coach is Senegalese like us. When he speaks he knows what he’s saying and that’s a big advantage for us. Someone who has been on this same path and football journey.

“We have one more important step to take and we hope we can do it for Senegal, the coach, and of course ourselves,” he added

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