Sadio Mane shrugs off transfer talk in Senegal win in Nations Cup qualifier

I’ll leave Liverpool if Senegal fans want – Mane jokes on future

Sadio Mane did not let speculation surrounding his future at Liverpool affect him on international duty as he hit a hat-trick to become Senegal’s record goalscorer.

Mane’s goals secured a 3-1 win over 10-man Benin in a 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier and saw him surpass Henri Camara, moving on to 31 goals from 86 appearances.

The 30-year-old has one year left on his deal at Anfield and has been linked with a move to German champions Bayern Munich.

Before the game the forward had joked he would listen to the advice of his compatriots on social media.

“Isn’t it between 60-70% of Senegalese that want me to leave Liverpool? I will do what they want,” Mane said.

“Don’t worry, it’s not far. Don’t be in a hurry, you’ll see it soon, there’s no problem.”

Mane scored an early penalty and added a second from close range midway through the first half in Diamniadio.

After Benin midfielder Sessi D’Almeida was sent off, Mane completed his hat-trick on the hour mark with another spot-kick before the visitors pulled one back late on through Junior Olaitan.

Senegal became continental champions for the first time in February – with Mane scoring the shootout winner against Egypt – and Aliou Cisse’s side began the defence of their title by going top of Group L.

The Teranga Lions are two points ahead of Madagascar and Rwanda, who drew on Thursday.

Elsewhere in the opening round of qualifiers on Saturday, Mali thrashed Congo-Brazzaville and there were also wins for Algeria, Gabon, Mauritania and The Gambia.

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Mali and Algeria off mark with wins

Eric Chelle made a blistering start in charge of Mali as the Eagles went 4-0 up against Congo-Brazzaville before half-time.

Remis forward El Bilal Toure grabbed two goals in between efforts from Mohamed Camara and Kalifa Coulibaly in Bamako, but the West Africans did not add to their tally after the break.

Mali joined The Gambia at the top of Group G after The Scorpions, who surprised on their Nations Cup finals debut earlier this year by reaching the quarter-finals, negotiated a tricky first game.

The Gambia and opponents South Sudan had both come through the preliminary qualifying round, and Albie Jallow’s composed finish four minutes into first-half injury time settled the encounter in Thies, Senegal.

Meanwhile 2019 Nations Cup winners Algeria made a solid start in Group F with a 2-0 win over Uganda in Oran.

Farouk Miya missed the chance to equalise from the penalty spot soon after Villarreal defender Aissa Mandi had put the Desert Foxes ahead in the 28th minute, and Youcef Belaili netted the second with 10 minutes remaining.

Earlier Niger and Tanzania had drawn 1-1 in a ‘home’ game for the former in Cotonou, Benin, with Daniel Sosah sweeping home to cancel out George Mpole’s first-minute headed opener for Tanzania.

Both sides hit the woodwork in search of a winner, but had to settle for a draw and trail Algeria by two points as a result.

Niger and The Gambia are among several nations who are having to use neutral countries for home qualifiers as they do not have stadia fit for international football.

Abdou wins opener with Mauritania

Aboubakar Kamara in action for Mauritania
Aris Thessaloniki forward Aboubakar Kamara helped Mauritania to an opening win in qualifying

Mauritania were another side with a new manager to record an opening victory, with former Comoros boss Amir Abdou seeing his new side beat Sudan 3-0 at home in Group I.

Ex-Fulham forward Aboubakar Kamara scored two goals in the space of four first-half minutes and Abdallahi Mahmoud added the third 13 minutes from time in Nouakchott.

Gabon also registered three points in their Group I opener despite their delayed arrival in Kinshasa for their match against DR Congo.

Kick-off was pushed back by four hours to 20:00 GMT, but the Panthers won 1-0 thanks to Shavy Babicka’s powerful 23rd-minute header.

Meanwhile, Group C is wide open because it is only consisted of three teams after Kenya failed to have their ban from world football lifted, and there was late drama as Namibia and Burundi drew 1-1 in Johannesburg.

Peter Shalulile fired hosts Namibia ahead from the edge of the area in the 10th minute, but Bonfils-Caleb Bimenyimana levelled with a half-volley with two minutes left – and was immediately sent off for his celebration.

The Burundi striker received a second yellow card after raising his shirt to display a message on an undershirt, having earlier been booked for blocking a clearing kick by the goalkeeper.

Namibia will not play another qualifier until September, while Burundi play a home tie in Dar-es-Salaam against Cameroon on Tuesday

Upcoming Group C, F, G, I and L matches

Tuesday, 7 June

  • Senegal v Rwanda (Diamniadio, 18:00) – Group L

Wednesday, 8 June

  • South Sudan v Mali (Cairo, 13:00) – Group G
  • Uganda v Niger (Kampala, 13:00) – Group F
  • Congo-Brazzaville v The Gambia (Brazzaville, 16:00) – Group G
  • Gabon v Mauritania (Franceville, 16:00) – Group I
  • Tanzania v Algeria (Dar-es-Salaam, 16:00) – Group F
  • Benin v Mozambique (Cotonou, 19:00) – Group L
  • Burundi v Cameroon (Dar-es-Salaam, 19:00) – Group C
  • Sudan v DR Congo (Khartoum, 19:00) – Group I

All kick-off times in GMT.

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