Senegal star Sadio Mane has revealed the reason they want to clinch the Africa Cup of Nations title for coach Aliou Cisse on Sunday.
The 29-year-old Liverpool star explains why they want to reward the Lions of Teranga coach when they come up against the Pharaohs on Sunday
The Lions of Teranga will play in their second straight final when they come up against Egypt at Olembe Stadium.
Senegal reached the final after defeating Burkina Faso 3-1 while the Pharaohs overpowered hosts Cameroon 3-1 on penalties after a 0-0 draw after extra time.
Ahead of their final date with the Pharaohs, the 29-year-old Liverpool winger has expressed the team’s desire to reward Cisse, after everything he went through as a player for Senegal and now as the coach.
“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,” Mane told BBC Sport Africa.
“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.”
The 45-year-old Cisse played for the Lions of Teranga between 1999 to 2005, when he managed 35 appearances. He also captained the team to the 2002 World Cup where they reached the quarter-finals.
He was also the captain when they played and lost against Cameroon in the 2002 Afcon final, and he returned to coach the side in the 2019 edition when they reached the final again but lost 1-0 against Algeria in Egypt.
Despite making 16 appearances at the Afcon finals, Senegal are yet to win the title, but Mane believes their time has now arrived in Cameroon.
“All the players know that we are very close to it now,” Mane continued. “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 let it slip. We have to win.”
Meanwhile, Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy is confident manager Cisse will guide them on what to do to beat the Pharaohs and lift their first-ever Afcon crown.
“We’ve been here before, but the manager has what it takes to lead us to success,” Mendy said.
“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.”