Liverpool wide man Sadio Mane is looking forward to taking Senegal far at the World Cup.
Senegal have been drawn alongside Poland, Colombia and Japan in Group H of this summer’s World Cup, and the West Africans will be hoping their best player – Liverpool winger Sadio Mane – can take them beyond the group stage, having failed to qualify for the last three tournaments.
The Lions of Teranga’s first and last appearance at the World Cup was in 2002, where they made it to the quarter finals, only for a golden goal by Turkey to dump them out of the competition.
Having helped Liverpool to the Champions League final, grabbing his side’s only goal in the 3-1 loss to Real Madrid, all eyes will be on Mane in Russia, and his incredible rise to being his country’s best player within the last four campaigns is noteworthy.
The 26-year-old kicked off his career in the French Ligue 2 with Metz in 2011 and, despite a poor start to life in Europe that saw the Senegalese score just two league goals in 22 games, he was off to Austrian Bundesliga side Red Bull Salzburg the following campaign.
Mane registered 45 goals in 87 games across all the competitions for them and his form convinced Southampton to spend £11.8million on his services in September 2014.
The speedster hit the ground running in the Premier League, netting 10 goals in 30 appearances for the Saints in his first season, and 15 in 43 games across all competitions at the end of the 2015-16 campaign – the highest in the club.
Having had the forward on his radar since his Borussia Dortmund days, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp finally landed his man in June 2016 for £34million, making Mane the most expensive African player in history at the time.
The Senegal international ended his debut campaign at Anfield with 13 goals in 27 league games, earning himself a spot in the PFA Team of the Year and emerging as Liverpool’s Players’ Player of the Year and Player of the Year.
2017-18 was one of Mane’s best individual seasons, with 10 Premier League strikes and 10 Champions League goals leading the Reds to a fourth-place finish in the EPL and a place in the final of the continental showpiece.
On the international scene, the winger has continued to impress since making his debut in 2012, notching 14 goals in 49 appearances. He played a key role as Senegal secured qualification for Russia, scoring four goals on their way to a first World Cup in 16 years.
Poland and Colombia are favourites to qualify from Group H but, with Mane raring to go, the West African giants could be one of the surprise packages of the tournament.
The Liverpool star has grown immensely since the last World Cup and will be hoping to fire his country to glory in Russia.