Sadio Mane prepares to battle Mahrez in Cairo after losing Premier League title

Riyad Mahrez and Sadio Mane resume an English Premier League rivalry on Thursday on a different stage when Algeria and Senegal clash at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt. Algerian winger Mahrez was part of the Manchester City team that pipped Senegalese forward Mane and his Liverpool teammates in a thrilling title race last season.
Image result for liverpool city mahrez maneNow the stars swap the Etihad Stadium and Anfield grounds of their clubs for the 30th of June Stadium in Cairo, and a Group C showdown likely to decide who tops the final standings.
While both countries seem sure to qualify for the round of 16, Mahrez would want Algeria to end on top of the table ahead of Mane’s Senegal – same way Man City finished over Mane’s Liverpool in the just concluded Premier League season.
Image result for mane mahrezThis time, the advantage of finishing on top would not be lifting a title, but theoretically facing a less formidable opponent in the last 16 of the African Cup of Nations.

While supporters, the media and publicists focus on Mahrez and Mane, Mahrez and Algeria’s head coach Djamel Belmadi is less happy with that situation. “I am not in favour of highlighting individuals over teams,” said the former Manchester City midfielder. “We must put less emphasis on Riyad.”
Aboud Omar of Kenya challenged by Riyad Mahrez of Algeria during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Finals football match between Algeria and Kenya at 30 June Stadium, Cairo, Egypt on 23 June 2019 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePixBelmadi was much happier when recalling a winning start for his team with Baghdad Bounedjah and Mahrez scoring in a routine 2-0 victory over Kenya. “Collecting maximum points from our first match meant a lot because Algeria have a history of poor starts at the Cup of Nations.”
Image result for Belmadi mahrezWhile Mahrez was scoring, Mane however, was absent as Senegal who are second favourites – behind host nation Egypt – to lift the AFCON trophy, strolled to a 2-0 win over Tanzania.

Against Algeria, the 2019 UEFA Champions League winner is expected to make his return after a suspension ruled him out of the win over Tanzania and coach Aliou Cisse says he is happy.
Image result for mane training senegalThe Senegalese winger surprised fans recently as he stated in an interview that he would trade his hard-fought Champions League success with Liverpool if it meant winning the African Cup of Nations with Senegal.
Image result for mane champions league final“It is up to us to achieve something great,” he told France Football. “Of course we are one of the favourites, we cannot hide from that. But this standing is not enough to go all the way.”
Image result for mane training senegal“Winning with my country, which has never won the Africa Cup of Nations, would be magnificent. I am even ready to swap a Champions League to win an Africa Cup of Nations. The return to Dakar would be extraordinary. This is my biggest and most crazy dream.”
Image result for algeria vs senegalThe Desert Foxes of Algeria and the Teranga Lions of Senegal lock horns on Thursday evening as both Mahrez and Mane are expeected to lead out their respective sides.
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