Liverpool team-mates Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane will reignite their international rivalry when Egypt and Senegal – less than two months after their AFCON Finals showdown – face off for a place at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar
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This would have been a disappointing result for Mohammed Salah and sadio mane but it would have allowed them to return to Anfield sooner than expected and negated the risk of injury they would have faced in the knockout stages of the tournament hosted by Cameroon. As it happened, however, the Kop pair found themselves at the heart of AFCON’s closing story after propelling their respective nations to the finals.
A duel between Egypt – the continent’s record seven-time champions – and a Senegalese side chasing their first tournament win caught a’s imagination First League Audience. While the resulting showdown at the Olembe Stadium ended goalless after regular and extra time, there was no shortage of action as Mane missed an early penalty and Salah firmly in place by the referee.
In addition to the drama, there was a fascinating exchange between the two Liverpool teammates before Mane scored his penalty in the first half and Salah won the battle of wits when Gabaski made a good save. However, the former southampton Ace would atone for his mistake by converting the deciding penalty in a penalty shootout Win AFCON for Senegal for the first time in their history… and making sure Salah never got an opportunity to step up to the role of hero. It was the culmination of a gripping tournament that was far more than an unwanted distraction for English football fans.
Remarkably, as the dust settled on Mane’s joy and Salah’s despair, attention was drawn to the fact that in just over a month and a half the duo would face off in another epic competition. On this occasion, it would not be a silver at stake but a place at the 2022 World Cup – a coveted item given that there are only five places available for African nations at the tournament in Qatar.
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Meanwhile, Salah and Mane have contributed nine goals for the team quadruple hunting red and they were on the same side as Liverpool in a final won the Carabao Cup with shootout success against Chelsea in February. Such is the competitive spirit and camaraderie between the two frontmen that Mane insisted last month he has not discussed the AFCON Finals with Salah.
“Until now – you won’t believe me – but we haven’t talked about it because I know he’s still disappointed,” Mane said of the result, although he admitted they “laughed” at his penalty and the “mind games” that preceded it.
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Of course, the World Cup qualifier, played over two legs on Friday and Tuesday, is much more than just a rematch between Salah and Mane. One of Egypt or Senegal will have a chance to improve on the group stage elimination they both endured during the 2018 tournament Russia. There are also significant financial benefits to be reaped as a result of qualifying, not to mention the unifying, joyful effect a major tournament can have on a country.
For the loser there is nothing but failure and despair. When he returns to Merseyside to help Liverpool’s Premier League he must put it on the back burner immediately. FA Cup and Champions League bids.
The rivalry between Africa’s two biggest stars gives the competition an intriguing edge in the eyes of Premier League fans, who are watching from all corners of the globe. Questions are being asked as to whether Salah can exact revenge for his AFCON-last heartbreak or whether Mane-led Senegal really are the continent’s top dogs. Those questions will be answered over two stages in Cairo and Diamniadio, with a shot at World Cup glory at stake.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/salah-mane-liverpool-egypt-senegal-26546016 Mohamed Salah vs Sadio Mane: The Liverpool stars face an epic rematch with the Online World Cup