Mane, Riyad bring star quality

Senegal striker Sadio Mane returns to the squad after missing the opening match of the Afcon 2019 in Egypt.
Senegal striker Sadio Mane returns to the squad after missing the opening match of the Afcon 2019 in Egypt.
Image: Xaume Olleros/Getty Images

Cairo - Senegal coach Aliou Cisse insisted there is no particular plan to counter Algeria star Riyad Mahrez in today's blockbuster Africa Cup of Nations group clash.

Algeria, like highly-fancied Senegal, won their opening game in Group C with captain Mahrez on target in a 2-0 victory over Kenya in Cairo.

"There's no anti-Mahrez plan or similar for (Sofiane) Feghouli or (Yacine) Brahimi, they're all good players," said Cisse.

"We're approaching this match trying to [take] care of what we need to do. There's nothing definitive riding on this match because there's still another one after that against Kenya."

Senegal will welcome back Sadio Mane after the Liverpool forward missed the 2-0 defeat of Tanzania due to suspension.

Inter Milan's Keita Balde, who scored the opening goal against the east Africans, could be the player to make way for Mane, demonstrating the wealth of attacking options in the squad.

Algeria captain Riyad Mahrez carries the hopes of the north African nation in the tournament.
Algeria captain Riyad Mahrez carries the hopes of the north African nation in the tournament.
Image: Ulrik Pedersen/ Getty Images

"The return of Sadio Mane can give us a boost. He's one of our leaders and he's ready," said Cisse, who is looking to lead the Teranga Lions to a first continental title.

"What does a team need to be African champions? If I had the recipe I think I'd keep it to myself," said Cisse, captain of the team that finished runners-up in 2002.

"You need to be tough mentally and ready to suffer. It's not easy to play in Africa, you can do well in Europe but not find your bearings here."

Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi rejected any notion his team are overly reliant on Manchester City winger Mahrez, the 2016 African Footballer of the Year, ahead of a match he views as "important but not decisive".

"This comes from the journalists, even the players ... they don't have this feeling. Riyad Mahrez, we know he is a very good player in the team, he's one of them," said Belmadi. 

Fixtures

Today: Madagascar v Burundi (4.30pm); Senegal v Algeria (7pm); Kenya v Tanzania (10pm)

Tomorrow: Tunisia v Mali (4.30pm); Morocco v Ivory Coast (7pm); SA v Namibia (10pm).

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