Sadio Mane-inspired Senegal hope history does not repeat itself when they host unfancied Hawks of Togo on Wednesday as the group phase of 2022 World Cup qualifiers kicks off.
The last time the Senegalese Teranga Lions attempted to make successive appearances at the global football showcase they were upstaged as the Togolese Sparrowhawks went to the 2006 tournament instead.
Senegal had to wait until 2018 to grace the World Cup stage again and suffered a heart-breaking first-round exit, losing out to Japan on fair-play points.
The west African nation begin Group H, which also includes Congo Brazzaville and Namibia, as hot favourites to win the six-round mini-league and secure a place in the final qualifying round.
It is easy to see why as Mane is one of many stars coach Aliou Cisse can call on for the clash with Togo in Thies, a city 70 kilometres (44 miles) east of the capital, Dakar.
The Senegal ‘spine’ consists of Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Idrissa Gueye and Liverpool forward Mane.
But France-born Claude le Roy, known as the ‘godfather’ of African coaches having spent four decades working in the continent, had a warning for the star-stacked squad.
“Senegal are clear favourites to win the group, but favourites were created to be beaten,” the former Togo coach told reporters. “Across six rounds, you can have shocks.”
Le Roy was replaced this year by Paulo Duarte, one of three Portuguese coaches handling teams in the group phase, who previously guided Burkina Faso twice and Gabon.
The post Mane led Teranga Lions wary of history against Hawks appeared first on Sporting Life.