Sadio Mané had hoped until the last second – and with him the whole of Senegal. But four days before the start of the World Cup for the African champions, team doctor Manuel Afonso announced the sad news. The MRT on Thursday in Munich showed that “the development is not as favorable as we had imagined”. The offensive star of FC Bayern missed the World Cup in Qatar.
National coach Aliou Cisse initially called Mané into his squad despite his right fibula head injury. Cisse said last week that “everything necessary will be done to allow Sadio to recover”. At least for the further course of the tournament after the opening game against the Netherlands next Monday, Cisse was “really optimistic” – instead, according to team doctor Afonso, an operation is now probably necessary.
The team, which some observers considered secret favorites, must now do without their leader. In Group A, Senegal will face title contenders the Netherlands on November 21 (5 p.m., im FAZ live ticker for the World Cupon ZDF and on MagentaTV) also on hosts Qatar (November 25) and Ecuador (November 29).
Mané was injured in the penultimate Bundesliga game before the World Cup break against Werder Bremen (6-1), preceded by a seemingly harmless duel with Amos Pieper. Mané’s coach Julian Nagelsmann suspected bad shortly afterwards. “It’s clear that Senegal would like him to play,” said the Bayern coach. However: “If he’s in pain, he won’t be able to play, even if the association would like that.” Bayern Munich still have nine weeks to go before the start of the winter break at RB Leipzig.
In Senegal, 30-year-old Mané is a folk hero, having scored 33 goals and assisted 20 more in 92 international matches. In February he led his country to their first ever African Cup of Nations triumph and then to the World Cup in March.
After Mané’s injury, even President Macky Sall worried about the football star. “Sadio, heart of a lion! All my heart is with you,” Sall wrote. “God bless you!”
Mané, who came to Bayern Munich from Liverpool in the summer, is not the only exceptional footballer who will be missing in Qatar. World champions France in particular have to do without top stars. N’Golo Kanté and Paul Pogba are among them – and recently Leipzig striker Christopher Nkunku. The German team of national coach Hansi Flick is missing Nkunku’s club colleague Timo Werner, record world champions Brazil flew into the desert without Philippe Coutinho. Argentina has to make up for the short-term absence of former Stuttgart player Nicolas Gonzalez.
Other players are injured or have just recovered, including Canada’s Alphonso Davies, South Korea’s hopeful Heung-Min Son, France’s world footballer Karim Benzema and Belgium’s striker Romelu Lukaku. The fear of injuries also accompanied the last preparatory games. “Everyone had a little bit in the back of their minds about getting out of the game healthy,” said Flick after the game tough 1-0 on Wednesday against Oman.