Mane: We Respect Bafana, But…
Sadio Mane: We Respect Bafana Bafana, But…
Liverpool ace Sadio Mane has commented on Senegal's upcoming clashes with South Africa, while Reds boss Jurgen Klopp revealed why he hopes the Lions of Teranga beat South Africa in the first game.
The 25-year-old missed Liverpool's previous five games and was a question mark for the clash with Stuart Baxter's side, but returned with a bang on the weekend, assisting two goals in his club side's 4-1 over West Ham.
Senegal lead Bafana's group with eight points, and a win in the rescheduled match against the Lions of Teranga would book them their ticket to the 2018 FIFA World Cup, while South Africa need to win both clashes against Senegal in order overtake them on the log.
"I am very happy to be back because it was not easy," Mane told BBC Sport.
"There's no excuse for me now – I was injured but I was always working hard.
"It's going to be tough because we know how South Africa is, even when they are not in good form.
"We respect them but we also know we have quality and we have a great team and I think we can do it.
"Everybody knows what it means for the country – especially the fans – and I think it will be a dream for us and hopefully God will help us to qualify."
Meanwhile, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, who will be in South Africa for an event in Cape Town on Wednesday, admitted that international breaks are always difficult for him, and that he hopes Senegal beat Bafana on Friday so that Mane can be rested for the return clash.
"It's the most difficult time for me but I have no problem with international games," the German tactician said.
"We are happy for Senegal if they can go to the World Cup, and they need Sadio Mane for this and I understand it.
"He's fit to play – the only thing I would ask for is if they can make it in the first game it would be cool if he could come back."
Do you think Bafana can beat Senegal despite the return from injury of Mane? Have your say in the comments section below.