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2022 World Cup: Senegal like brothers despite Mane and Kouyate absence - Koulibaly

09:04 WAT 30/11/2022
Sadio Mane
Kalidou Koulibaly has revealed Senegal's togetherness despite missing the injured Sadio Mane and Cheikhou Kouyate at the 2022 World Cup finals.
  • Koulibaly scored as Senegal defeated Ecuador
  • Senegal became first African team to qualify in Qatar
  • Reveals mood in camp without injured duo

WHAT HAPPENED? The Lions of Teranga qualified for the Round of 16 after defeating Ecuador 2-1 in their final Group A fixture at Khalifa International Stadium on Tuesday.

Second-half goals courtesy of Ismaila Sarr, from the penalty spot, and Koulibaly's powerful effort ensured Senegal progressed alongside the Netherlands. However, they achieved the feat without their two players Mane and Kouyate.

While Mane was injured before the global competition kicked off in the Gulf nation, Kouyate picked up an injury during Senegal's opener against the Dutch.

WHAT HE SAID: "We are a group, we are a team, we are brothers and that is the difference because we miss one good player, one legend for us, Sadio [Mane] and we also miss Cheikhou [Kouyate], who got injured after the first game, so we knew as a team we can make something and as a team we can go far," Koulibaly told beinSPORTS when asked about the absence of the Mane.

"So we keep on believing and this win is for Sadio [Mane] and for Papa Bouba Diop, which was the second anniversary of his death, so we wanted to make something special and we are all happy."

WHAT IS MORE? The Chelsea defender was elated to score his first goal for Senegal.

"My first goal for the national team and it is amazing to score during the World Cup, and I think it is a dream for every child and today [Tuesday] I am really happy that I scored my first goal during this game and I hope we will go far."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Senegal became the first African team to reach the knockout stage of the tournament in Qatar. Ghana, Cameroon, Morocco and Tunisia are the other nations representing Africa.

WHAT NEXT FOR SENEGAL? The Lions of Teranga will shift their focus to the Round of 16 fixture against England at Al Bayt Stadium on Sunday.