Senegal coach relents and picks Mane and other Saudi stars

Senegal coach Aliou Cisse said on Friday that he had changed his mind about players based in Saudi Arabia as he picked five, including Sadio Mane, for a friendly with Algeria.

Cisse said he had previously ruled out calling up players in the Saudi league, because of his doubts over the quality of the competition.

“The situation has changed,” he said on Friday. “When I see their matches, I’m rather reassured.”

The recruitment of world-class players “in Saudi Arabia doesn’t just involve…Senegal but the world of football.”

“It is no longer the Saudi League of five, six or seven years ago,” he said.

In addition to  Mane, who joined Al Nassr in the summer, the 25-name list drawn up by the reigning African champions includes four other key players from the Saudi league: goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, defenders Kalidou Koulibaly and Abdou Diallo and striker Habib Diallo.

All four moved from European clubs after last season.

Senegal, who have already qualified for the next African Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast, host Algeria on 12 September in Dakar.

Before that game, Senegal will field what local media have dubbed a “B team” for their final qualifier against Rwanda on September 9.

After agreeing to play the first leg in Senegal to help Rwanda, which has no official stadium, Senegal reneged on the agreement and refused to travel to Rwanda for the return leg.

They finally agreed to make the trip, but will send a squad essentially made up of youngsters.



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