Sadio Mane believes 2023 AFCON will be ‘the toughest’ of them all

Senegal’s Sadio Mane celebrates lifting the AFCON trophy during the 2021 AFCON final between Senegal and Egypt at Stade d Olembe, Yaounde | IMAGO / Sebastian Frej

FOOTBALL Sadio Mane believes 2023 AFCON will be ‘the toughest’ of them all

Mark Kinyanjui 19:11 - 01.01.2024

The former Liverpool man inspired the side to their first ever AFCON trophy in 2021.

Senegal captain Sadio Mane believes the upcoming 2023 Africa Cup of Nations set to take place in Cote d’Ivoire will be the toughest compared to previous editions.

The Teranga Lions skipper was speaking to CAFOnline on the nations’ chances of defending the title and what such a feat would mean to him and his country. 

Senegal are pitted in what many have deemed as the group of death against Cameroon, Guinea and The Gambia in Group C.

Sharing his views on their tough group and the rest of the competition, Mane said the team was expecting a difficult competition as all the big African nations had qualified for the Cote d’Ivoire edition and would all be aiming to do well.

“We know it won’t be easy but we will be there to do our best and try to go through every round,” Mane said.

"We are expecting a tough competition. This competition will be one of the strongest since I started playing in it because all the big countries are here and they all have their targets, but we will see what will happen."

Asked on what it would mean for him personally to lift the title in succession, the 31-year-old star said it would be a special achievement as the AFCON trophy remains one of the best trophies he has won in his glittering career.  

“Firstly, winning the AFCON was the best trophy I have ever won in my life and coming to do it again will be special and a big achievement," he added. 

“It’s been a dream to play in this competition since I was a kid and we will do our best. Winning the AFCON will be a big impact for our football because we have won all the other categories which is great for the country.”

Senegal kick off their title defence against The Gambia on January 15, before the ultimate clash of the lions when they face the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon three days later.

They conclude their Group C campaign against Guinea on January 23.

All their matches will take place at the Stade Charles Konan Banny Stadium in Yamoussoukro which will also play host to a Round of 16 and quarter-finals of the competition.

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