Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 28 October 2020

Sadio Mane says winning Africa Cup of Nations would eclipse lifting Champions League trophy with Liverpool

Teranga Lions face Tunisia for a place in Friday's final where they will meet either Nigeria or Algeria

Sadio Mane says winning the Africa Cup of Nations would eclipse winning the Champions League with Liverpool. Reuters
Sadio Mane says winning the Africa Cup of Nations would eclipse winning the Champions League with Liverpool. Reuters

Senegal star Sadio Mane says helping Liverpool win the Champions League was special, but his "absolute dream" is parading the Africa Cup of Nations trophy through the streets of Dakar.

The west African team known as the Teranga Lions are two victories away from fulfilling the dream of their 27-year-old talisman, starting with a semi-final against Tunisia in Egypt Sunday.

"Going to Dakar with the trophy would be extraordinary," said Mane, who shared the Premier League Golden Boot award last season with fellow Africans Mohamed Salah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

"My absolute dream is to help Senegal win the Africa Cup of Nations - that would surpass even what I achieved with Liverpool in the Champions League.

"We have to accept being among the favourites and many people are assuming we will play Algeria in the final," said the scorer of three goals so far in the tournament.

"All four semi-finalists are quality sides and all can go on and win this competition. The champions will be the team that wants the trophy the most."

It is the first time the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia have qualified for the penultimate stage since hosting and winning the 2004 edition.

Senegal lost narrowly to hosts Egypt two years later, and that was the last time they featured in a Cup of Nations semi-final.

The Senegalese have impressed more than the Tunisians en route to the last four with Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly and Mane playing leading roles in a four win-one loss run.

Tunisia drew four consecutive matches before taking advantage of jaded giantkillers Madagascar to win 3-0 with captain Youssef Msakni among the goals.

Three-time winners Nigeria will look to young star Samuel Chukwueze to continue his development by firing the Super Eagles past Algeria.

At 20 years and 49 days, Chukwueze became the youngest scorer at this year's tournament as he grabbed his first international goal in the quarter-final win over South Africa.

It has been a meteoric rise for the youngster, signed by Villarreal in 2017, following a strong debut season in Spain's top flight which included a goal in April's thrilling 4-4 draw with Barcelona and a match-winning strike against Girona that lifted his side out the relegation zone for good.

"Chukwueze has a good left foot, is quick, has a low centre of gravity - which gives him very good balance - and can deliver and score," was Nigeria manager Gernot Rohr's appraisal of his winger.

Teammate Ahmed Musa believes Chukwueze will become one of the stars of the senior Nigeria side in the future.

"I think with time he is going to be one of the best players we have in the Super Eagles team," Musa said.

Updated: July 13, 2019 11:11 AM

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