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Senegal will start their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations campaign without the services of ace Sadio Mane. He is serving a suspension after being yellow carded twice during the qualifiers.
The Teranga Lions are tipped as one of the title favourites for this year’s tournament, but coach Aliou Cisse batted away such flattery.
“Favourites are the teams who have won. Senegal have never won the Cup of Nations. Egypt have seven times. But we know our strengths and we are genuine challengers,” said Cisse, whose side is the highest-ranked in Africa, at 22 in the world.
Senegal performed admirably at the 2018 World Cup, missing out on a place in the knockout stages by the thinnest of margins, and head into the competition in Egypt as the leading rivals to the host nation.
“Our recent results show that Senegal is making progress. But the statistics don’t lead to victories. France were not top of the Fifa rankings and they were world champions,” said Cisse, who captained Senegal to the 2002 Cup of Nations final.
Afcon LIVE: Senegal vs Tanzania
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Additional reporting by TSA Staff, agencies.