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Can Ismaila Sarr step up in the absence of injured Mane?

Can Ismaila Sarr step up in the absence of injured Mane?

Senegal come into the FIFA World Cup with a huge dilemma on their hands. Star man Sadio Mane could miss the first three games of the World Cup as he is nursing a knee injury he picked up on club duty with Bayern Munich.

But one particular player who could fill that void is Ismaila Sarr. The Watford man is as equally potent in front of goal and has pace. He can operate on either flanks as an attacker and can also play as a traditional number nine.

At 24 years of age Sarr already has already played at a World Cup Finals with his bow coming in Russia 2018.

The Watford forward played the full 90 minutes in each of Senegal’s three group games in Russia in 2018.

He also has an African Cup of Nations winners medal in his closet.

“Obviously we played very well at AFCON 2021, and we need to carry those good performances into the World Cup,” he said.

“We can’t think about winning AFCON because we must focus on the World Cup, but we can use what we did there as a stimulus to perform well in Qatar.

“This is my second World Cup and we have a squad that I am very happy to be part of. The squad is strong and very ready to go Qatar and try to do the best we can.”

Sarr has netted six times for his club this season providing four assists. He looks to take his goal scoring form to Qatar.

“I was very happy to be called up to the national team once again. I really can’t wait to go and play in the World Cup. To play in a major tournament is the dream of every player and so I am very happy.”

But with the absence of Sadio Mane, many are fearing for Senegal’s fortunes at the tournament. Ismaila Sarr says all the Senegal players go into the pitch to play as a team.

Sadio Mane of Senegal celebrates with teammate Ismaila Sarr following the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group H match between Japan and Senegal at Ekaterinburg Arena on June 24, 2018 in Yekaterinburg, Russia. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

“It’s not all about one player because we play as a collective. Of course, I wish Sadio Mane a good and quick recovery, but we go there as a team. I hope he can come back though, as we do need him for the competition.

“There are many very good players in the Senegal squad. Of course, Sadio would be a huge loss because he is our country’s best player, but we have many other good players in the squad.”

“My ambition is to go out there and help us win as many games as possible, score as many goals as I can but also give as many assists as I can to my teammates. We want to go through the group stage and then see what happens after that.”

Senegal are in group A, with the hosts Qatar, Ecuador and Netherlands. The Teranga Lions will open their campaign against the Dutch on Monday November 21.

An African football Journalist with a passion for the beautiful game. He is also a freelance Sports Photographer and Graphic designer.

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