'I'm sad for him' - Van Dijk expects Mane to miss World Cup in major blow to Senegal

Virgil van Dijk Sadio Mane
Virgil van Dijk expects former Liverpool team-mate Sadio Mane to miss the World Cup after the injury he suffered on the eve of the tournament.
  • Mane injured leg playing for Bayern
  • Senegal face Van Dijk's Netherlands in Group A
  • Dutchman confident his side can flourish in Qatar

WHAT HAPPENED? Mane has been named in the Senegal squad despite suffering what Bayern Munich, his club, described as an injury "to the head of his right fibula" in the win over Werder Bremen last week. The 30-year-old was not with Aliou Cisse's squad when they touched down in Qatar on Monday but, as the team's talisman and record goalscorer, he will be given every chance of proving his fitness. He certainly will not feature in the Group A opener with Van Dijk's Netherlands side on November 21.

WHAT THEY SAID: Speaking to reporters, Netherlands captain Van Dijk said: "It’s going to be tough if he plays, yes or not. I don’t think he will play, but they have a fantastic team."

Asked if he has spoken to his former Liverpool colleague, Van Dijk added: "Of course. I was feeling sad for him, first and foremost. I’m not happy in this case and I’ve been in that situation where I missed the Euros [in 2021]. We as players, we work so hard to get to this stage and he has been such an important figure in that group, for their country. I know for a fact that he will put a brave face on it, but it’s tough and I feel sorry for him. I just want to tell him that whether he plays, yes or no, it’s going to be such a tough game."

Article continues below

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Van Dijk's gloomy outlook is seemingly shared by the Senegalese Football Federation. On Tuesday, board member Abdoulaye Sow revealed that the Bayern Munich man would miss his country's "first games" in Qatar.

AND WHAT'S MORE: The Netherlands were due to arrive in Doha on Tuesday, with Van Dijk excited for his first major tournament at senior level. "I'm really excited about playing against the best players in world football, leading out my country over there, representing my country in the best way possible and for me it is a boyhood dream," he said. "I'm 31 now but it doesn't change the fact that I'm going to enjoy this as much and maybe it is an even better time for me to go there because of everything that I have experienced. And also we have a great group so I am very excited about it."


Sadio Mane injured Bayern Munich 2022-23

Virgil van Dijk Sadio Mane Liverpool 2022

Virgil van Dijk Netherlands 2022

WHAT NEXT FOR MANE & VAN DIJK? The priority for Mane will be trying to get himself fit for at least part of the World Cup. It does, however, seem impossible that he will feature in the Group A opener, a game that will see Van Dijk lead the Dutch out in his first appearance at a World Cup.