CAIRO, Egypt, Jun 26 – Senegal coach Aliou Cisse insisted there is no particular plan to counter Algeria star Riyad Mahrez in Thursday’s blockbuster Africa Cup of Nations group clash.
Algeria, like highly-fancied Senegal, won their opening game in Group C with captain Mahrez on target in a 2-0 victory over Kenya in Cairo.
“There’s no anti-Mahrez plan or similar for (Sofiane) Feghouli or (Yacine) Brahimi, they’re all good players,” said Cisse at Wednesday’s pre-match news conference.
“We’re approaching this match trying to care of what we need to do. There’s nothing definitive riding on this match because there’s still another one after that against Kenya.”
He added: “It’s an important match, we have three points but we’re not qualified yet. To go far in this competition you need to win as many matches as possible.”
Senegal will welcome back Sadio Mane after the Liverpool forward missed the 2-0 defeat of Tanzania due to suspension.
Inter Milan’s Keita Balde, who scored the opening goal against the east Africans, could be the player to make way for Mane, demonstrating the wealth of attacking options in the squad.
“The return of Sadio Mane can give us a boost. He’s one of our leaders and he’s ready,” said Cisse, who is looking to lead the Teranga Lions to a first continental title.
“What does a team need to be African champions? If I had the recipe I think I’d keep it to myself,” said Cisse, captain of the team that finished runners-up in 2002.
“You need to be tough mentally and ready to suffer. It’s not easy to play in Africa, you can do well in Europe but not find your bearings here.”
“Being favourites in this competition doesn’t mean much, if you look recently at Zambia or Cameroon two years ago for example, they weren’t among the favourites.”
Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi rejected any notion his team are overly reliant on Manchester City winger Mahrez, the 2016 African footballer of the year, ahead of a match he views as “important but not decisive”.
“This comes from the journalists, even the players they don’t have this feeling. Riyad Mahrez, we know he is very a good player in the team, he’s one of them,” said Belmadi.
“I’m sure Mohamed Salah and Mane have the same feeling. This way of thinking comes from the journalists and maybe fans, but not us at all.”
The post No specific Mahrez plan, says Senegal coach appeared first on Capital Sports.