Sadio Mane isn’t in the World Cup, and Virgil van Dijk is upset about it. He describes calling his old comrade as soon as he heard the news.
Van Dijk discusses exclusion of Sadio Mane from the 2022 World Cup
Mane is one of several well-known athletes who will miss the World Cup due to injury, making it seem as though a tournament in the middle of the season wasn’t the best decision. The 30-year-old, who won the Africa Cup of Nations in February and then secured a spot in the World Cup in March, has been instrumental in Senegal’s recent success.
However, manager Aliou Cisse will be without Senegal’s all-time leading scorer due to an injury sustained in Bayern Munich’s last pre-tournament match, ruling out a meeting with Van Dijk.
On Monday, the Netherlands play Senegal in their opening Group A encounter; prior to the game, Van Dijk disclosed he called Mane when he got the news.
“I wanted to know how he was because there were so many rumors. Unfortunately at the time, it was not the best news. I feel sad for him, I know how hard he works for this, and he has been important for Senegal.”
Significance of Pre-World Cup Injuries
The first FIFA World Cup to take place in winters (November-December 2022), is already having an effect on the competing teams.
The World Cup had to be relocated from the customary June-July window due to the extreme summer heat in the host nation of Qatar. The shift in the schedule will improve the playing environment for the athletes, but it has presented difficulties for some teams.
Mane had played in all 23 of Bayern’s games prior to his injury, so this is a harsh blow for him. Unfortunately, this is a scenario that is all too often as injury concerns grow among World Cup squads.
Karim Benzema of France is the most recent to withdraw due to a thigh injury, making him the first Ballon d’Or winner to miss a World Cup since 1978.
But on Monday at 4 p.m (GMT)., Van Dijk will play in the Netherlands’ inaugural match against Senegal.