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World Cup

Mane frustrated by defensive Iran as Senegal draw in friendly tie

19:59 SAST 2022/09/27
Sadio Mané Senegal Egypt AFCON 2021
Sadio Mane failed to inspire Senegal to another victory as the Teranga Lions were held to a 1-1 draw by Iran at the BSFZ-Arena in Austria on Tuesday.
  • Forwrad had little room to attack against Iran
  • The draw ended Teranga Lions' four-match winning run
  • Senegal now focused on World Cup after the two friendlies

WHAT HAPPENED? After a goalless first half where Senegal found it difficult to break down the stubborn Iran defence, the African champions were gifted a goal 10 minutes after the interval, when Morteza Pouraliganji slotted an attempt to clear a goal-bound cross into his own net.

The goal saw Iran, who had employed a defensive approach until then, come out to attack and they got their reward nine minutes later when Bayer Leverkusen forward Sardar Azmoun headed in from close range.

Aliou Cisse made seven changes to the team that beat Bolivia 2-0 on Saturday, with Mane, Kalidou Koulibaly, Boulaye Dia and Krepin Diatta the only survivors, as the likes of Idrissa Gueye, Ismaila Sarr, Nampalys Mendy and Ismail Jakobs were among those that got the nod.

With first-choice goalkeeper Edouard Mendy out due to injury, Cisse tested QPR’s Seny Dieng between the posts after handing Alfred Gomis of Rennes the opportunity on Saturday.

THE BIGGER PICTURE: The draw ended Senegal’s four-match winning run that stretches from the World Cup playoffs in March when they defeated Egypt before wins over Benin and Rwanda followed, in the 2023 Afcon qualifiers in June.

It is also the second goal the Teranga Lions have conceded over that period, as they continue to show their solidity at the back.

ALL EYES ON: Mane came into the match as the main man, having scored in the last three matches for Senegal but he was heavily marked, making it difficult to add to his 34 goals for his country.

The Bayern Munich forward started on the left wing but dropped deeper as the game wore on, after their opponents frustrated them with a low block. Mane had only one shot at goal in the first half but teed up Dia and Sarr later in the second half, the two forwards firing directly at the goalkeeper.

THE VERDICT: Senegal still look strong ahead of the World Cup but will have to find a way to open up tight defences given they struggled to navigate past Iran who had many bodies in the box. The African champions also displayed their squad depth in the two matches which will please Cisse and their fans ahead of the World Cup.

WHAT NEXT FOR SENEGAL? The Teranga Lions have not lined up any more pre-World Cup matches, meaning the two friendlies could be their final before they head to Qatar where they will face the hosts, the Netherlands and Ecuador in their group.