Senegal needs vintage Mane in Qatar. The Bayern striker will lead the AFCON champions at football's biggest stage this month.

When Bayern Munich signed Sadio Mane in June, the 32-time German champions knew they were getting a leader and a winner at both domestic and international level.

In addition to Premier League and Champions League triumphs with Liverpool, Mane led Senegal to the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations title, scoring the winning penalty in the shootout to help the Lions of Teranga secure their first major silverware.

That they did it against his then Liverpool teammate Mohamed Salah's Egypt - the most successful team in the history of the tournament - must have made the victory sweeter.

The win saw Mane pick up his second consecutive African Player of the Year trophy and contributed to his second-place finish in this year's Ballon d'Or.

Mane also played a crucial role in carrying his team to the World Cup, converting the decisive penalty in the shootout - again against Egypt - just a month after the AFCON triumph.

When Mane swaps the red of Bayern for Senegal green in Qatar, the focus of his side - around 18 million Senegalese - will again turn to him.

Switching from Bayern To Senegal is a major adjustment for the 30-year-old.

While in Senegal Mane is unquestionably the main man up front and the team's biggest name, at Bayern he is one of several attacking stars including including Germans Jamal Musiala, Serge Gnabry, Thomas Mueller, Leroy Sane and Cameroonian striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.

While Mane has at times struggled with his confidence at club level since making the switch to the Bundesliga - he has been benched a handful of times this season by Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann due to a lack of confidence - he will spearhead Senegal.

In late October, after scoring once and assisting twice in a 6-2 win over Mainz, Mane said he would play any role necessary to help the team.

''I've played left wing my whole life,'' Mane told German television. ''[But] if the team needs me as a striker or a right winger, I'll be there.''

Despite his domestic and international success, Mane said he was trying to get better as a player. [AFP]


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