A brief four-paragraph statement on the Liverpool website overnight handed South Africa’s World Cup hopes a boost as the man they fear the most in next month’s last two qualifiers against Senegal is out.
Senegal’s star performer‚ Sadio Mane‚ one of only two Africans named earlier in the week for the annual Ballon d’Or award‚ will miss the Group D games after sustaining a hamstring injury.
Bafana meet Senegal in a replayed match – annulled by Fifa due to match manipulation – in Polokwane on November 10 and then in Dakar on November 14‚ needing to win both games to reach Russia 2018.
His club says he has been ruled out for up to six weeks after hurting himself on international duty.
“The winger was substituted 89 minutes into Senegal’s 2-0 World Cup qualifying win over the Cape Verde Islands on Saturday. And it has now been confirmed that he picked up an injury during that fixture that could keep him out of action for up to six weeks‚” said the club.
Mane is the pivotal threat in attack for Senegal who have otherwise switched their forwards around during the qualifying campaign‚ still seeking consistency from their strikers.
West Ham United’s Diafra Sakho came in for the game in Praia last Saturday‚ which Senegal won 2-0‚ and scored after having missed out of the rest of the campaign.
In the two draws against Burkina Faso in September‚ coach Aliou Cisse used Moussa Sow and Ismailia Sarr as his lead attackers.
The 31-year-old Sow has lost sharpness‚ however‚ since moving to play in the United Arab Emirates and Sarr‚ who plays in Ligue 1 in France with Stade Rennes‚ is just 19 and still untested at the top level.
The 22-year-old Keita Balde Diao just made a 250-million Euro (about R400-million) move to Monaco but is used more as an impact player by Senegal.
When South Africa hosted Senegal in Polokwane late last year‚ Mane proved a real handful for the Bafana defence. – TimesLIVE