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Saturday, September 30, 2023

2023 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifying Preview: Group L



FIFA Ranking: 20

AFCON Appearances: 16

Best Finish: Champions (2021)

Manager: Aliou Cissé

Key Player

Sadio Mané (Liverpool- England)

The heartbeat and soul of the Senegal team, Mané scored the winning penalty kick to give the Lions of Teranga their first ever Africa Cup of Nations trophy earlier this year and followed it up a month and a half later by converting the winning spot kick to send his nation past Egypt into the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Like his club teammate and CAF rival Mohamed Salah, the energy level of Mané is going to be the big question as Senegal starts their attempt to defend a title. However, Mané has always shown the ability to step up his performance when putting on the Senegal shirt and will be expected to once again lead his team’s cause and come up with big plays when they need him.

Other players to watch

Édouard Mendy (Chelsea- England) Following a dream 2021 that saw the 30-year-old capture nearly every individual award for his outstanding goalkeeper, Mendy suffered a downturn in form for Chelsea in 2022 but is still undoubtedly the best shot stopper in African football. His presence gives Senegal an edge few African national teams enjoy and he will look to get back on track this summer.

Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli- Italy) The anchor and captain in the heart of the Senegalese backline, national team supporters can always be confident that the defense will remain solid even when the attack can sputter at times. Excellent passer out of the back to go along with leadership and an imposing physicality.

Ismaïla Sarr (Watford- England) An explosive winger who is unlikely to be at Watford next season following their relegation from the English Premier League, Sarr’s absence for the first half of Senegal’s 2021 AFCON run showed his importance. When Sarr is on the opposite wing from Mané it allows both players to thrive with opposing defenses unable to focus solely on Mané.


There will be no slowing down for Senegal this summer with a favorable draw and a veteran core that is still in its prime. Supporters will and should expect an undefeated record during qualifying for the reigning African champions as they prepare for their campaign in Qatar 2022.