Cisse hails Mane as 'one of the best players in the world'

Liverpool forward Sadio Mane will be a key man for Senegal at the World Cup but coach Aliou Cisse insists his side has other threats.

Senegal star Sadio Mane   -  Getty Images

Senegal coach Aliou Cisse has praised Sadio Mane's "humility" and described the Liverpool forward as one of the best players in the world.

Cisse first encountered Mane when he was named coach of the 2012 Olympic team and says the 26-year-old's recent exploits – which included playing a major role in the Merseysiders' run to the Champions League final – have not changed him.

Speaking in Moscow ahead of Senegal's World Cup opener against Poland on Tuesday, Cisse said: "Sadio Mane is a unique player, he cannot be compared to any others, even if Senegal have had big names before.

"Everything that has occurred to him in the past two or three years might have changed him but he's exactly the same, he's just as humble as when I met him seven years ago.

"His behaviour has not changed, his humility towards leaders, his team-mates. He can bring a lot to the team but the Senegal team is not built just around him, he has players that will help him."

Asked if Mane can go on to become one of the world's best, Cisse feels he is already in that exalted company.

He added: "I don't want to say he could become one of the best players, he already is one of the best players.

"He plays at an emblematic club in Liverpool, one of the best European clubs. He has shown that he is top notch.

"He is unpredictable, he's difficult to stop, at any point he can make the difference with a dribble or a pass."

Team over individuals

Poland's equivalent is Robert Lewandowski, the leading scorer in the European qualifiers.

Cisse respects the Bayern Munich number nine but says Senegal does not have a specific plan to stop him.

"Sometimes we talk a lot about individuals more than the team," he said.

"Everyone knows Lewandowski is a world-class player but Poland are a competitive team, a winning team.

"They have other players that can play just as well, that can make the difference at any moment.

"We don’t have a particular plan against Lewandowski, we have a collective plan to beat Poland."

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