This Saturday, November 18, Sadio Mané joins a select group of players who have won 100 caps for their country. The star of the Lions of Teranga will experience this joy against South Sudan on the first day of qualifying for the 2026 World Cup.
Qualifying for the 2026 World Cup has been the order of the day for African footballers since Wednesday November 15. The great nations of Côte d'Ivoire, Mali, Egypt, Tunisia and Cameroon have all held their own. Senegal, the African champions, will be making their debut this Saturday, November 18, with a special flavour: the 100th selection of star player Sadio Mané. Having made his debut for the Lions of Teranga in May 2012 against Morocco (0-1 win), Mané has gone on to establish himself as Senegal's playmaker.
The two-time African Ballon d'Or winner was a key figure in his country's triumph in 2021. Unfortunately, his fans won't be celebrating his talent tonight. The reason? A FIFA suspension following the incidents that marred the second leg of the World Cup 2022 play-off between Egypt and Senegal. This took place on March 29, 2022. Mané will be the second member of the Senegalese national team to reach 100 caps, after Idrissa Gana Guèye. Two key players who should help the Lions to a comfortable victory over the Brights Stars in Group B on Matchday 1 of the 2026 World Cup qualifiers.
Even if Senegal's strike force is impressive on paper, national coach Aliou Cissé is playing it modest. "Returning to the World Cup is one of Senegal's ambitions. So it's important for us to start with a win. We're aiming to get a good result, which will give us confidence before we travel to Togo on the second day. We've prepared well," he says.
This is the first time that Senegal and South Sudan have met in their history. After being eliminated in the preliminary round of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup, the Bright Stars managed to progress to the group stage.However, South Sudan have not played an official match since March 2023. That was against Congo (2-1), in the qualifiers for the AFCON 2023. Their last appearance was a 1-0 friendly victory over Kenya in September 2023.
Benin out to spring a surprise in South Africa
It's been 11 matches since Benin last won an official match. It's time for the Cheetahs to wake up.And to do that, they'll need to pick up a positive result in South Africa this Saturday, November 19. We're a minnow against South Africa, and that's precisely the role we like and we'll be there to spring a surprise. The aim is to play a good match. If we play good soccer, we have a better chance of getting a good result. It's true that we're not the favourites in South Africa, but our ambition as outsiders is to do our best to get a result," says Gernot Rohr. Benin are in Pool C alongside Lesotho, Nigeria, Rwanda and Zimbabwe.
Schedule (times in Gmt)
1:00 pm: South Africa-Benin
7pm: Senegal-South Sudan