YEKATERINBURG, Russia (Reuters) - Senegal striker Sadio Mane said his team was ready for Japanese efforts to neutralise him in Sunday’s World Cup clash and reminded his opponents there is more to the African side than just one player.
Two hours after Japanese coach Akira Nishino said he was ready to mark Mane with up to three players, the Liverpool forward laughingly shrugged off the attention.
“It’s a pleasure to hear everyone talking about me, of course but it’s also an important trap to be avoided. For Senegal what’s important is the whole group and we are going to face a good team, but we are going to try and concentrate on ourselves and what we have to do,” he told reporters.
“I think if there’s an anti-Sadio Mane plan there’s not going to be any worries as long as this whole group setup is well in place.”
Both teams enter the Group H match in Yekaterinburg with confidence after winning their opening games - Japan 2-1 against Colombia and Senegal by the same score against Poland.
Equally, Mane said, it would be a mistake to focus on any individual in the Japanese team.
“You shouldn’t focus on a single player in a match, because that can sometimes send you in the wrong direction. We respect this team,” he said.
“Japan are a fine team that knows how to play and it’s also an aggressive team. It’s not going to be easy at all.”
Reporting by Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Christian Radnedge