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HomeAfrica-NewsEdouard Mendy's Chelsea blues returns in Qatar

Edouard Mendy’s Chelsea blues returns in Qatar

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With Sadio Mane gone, Aliou Cissé and Senegal need his experienced hands to perform better than ever

Sadio Mane’s injury before the World Cup and subsequent absence from the tournament, of course, overshadowed Senegal’s preparation for the competition and was the big head scratcher for Aliou Cisse to settle in Group A.

Of course no one, or even two players, could replace Mane, but there was hope that, at least in the group stage, the Lions should have enough quality in the final third to proceed to the knockout stages.

They sure have experience.

One reason for that optimism has been the team’s strong backbone and solid defence, with smart heads like Kalidou Koulibaly, Edouard Mendy and Idrissa Gueye providing the secure foundation on which Mane was able to inspire West Africans to an African Cup. of Nations inaugural title in Cameroon earlier this year.

What Mane’s injury had also done, however, was divert attention from some of the other concerns in the Senegal squad, although it was one of those issues, Mendy’s recent form, that ultimately cost the Lions a admirable early draw in Monday’s matchup with the Netherlands.

The Lions goalkeeper, so imperious during Afcon earlier this year, was arguably to blame for both Dutch goals, as his recent troubles with Chelsea came back to haunt him at the grandest stage.

For the first, he found himself with a clear ball in the box, but Cody Gakpo beat him to it and by the time the block landed Senegal were 1-0 down.

For the second, certainly with the Lions chasing the game at this point, he could only place a Memphis Depay effort in Davy Klaassen’s way as the Ajax man took the game past the reigning African champions.

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Less than a year ago, he was crowned FIFA’s ‘The Best’ Goalkeeper, but the two Dutch goals here were evidence of the recklessness, momentary lapses, poor decision-making that characterized Mendy’s play during the latter part of the last season and the first. part of this

These are the sorts of mistakes that led to Graham Potter dropping him as Chelsea’s No. 1 and only restoring him to the starting XI when injury sidelined Kepa Arrizabalaga out of contention.

Being knocked out at Chelsea meant there were concerns the 30-year-old would not have the match sharpness heading into the tournament, although he ended up playing four times in November for the Blues after the Spaniard was ruled out.

It is perhaps telling that Mendy has not kept a clean sheet since Chelsea defeated Everton in early August, and although he did contribute a valuable intervention on the hour marker, risking a foray from his goal line to deflect a shot corner, his guilt for the Dutch. goals run the risk of further chipping away at his confidence.

Cissé has stuck to their experienced names – this Senegal team was the oldest Lions XI to ever take the field at a World Cup, with an average age of 28 years and 284 days – and they certainly need their older players to give step up now. More than ever.

He and his backroom staff must find the solutions quickly to improve Mendy’s mojo, in a way Potter hasn’t been able to, and remind the former Stade Rennais player that he is one of Africa’s best goalkeepers of all time, the First sub-Saharan goalkeeper. African goalkeeper, after all, to win the Champions League.

Now that the Lions find themselves with just two games to salvage their campaign, and Mane not coming back to save them, Senegal needs old Edouard Mendy back between the sticks.

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