Kalidou Koulibaly, the captain of Senegal, disclosed what he said to Sadio Mane before the penalty against Egypt that won them the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
The Teranga Lions, captained by the Chelsea defender, defeated Egypt via penalties to win the AFCON championship for the first time.
The game ended in a 0-0 stalemate at full time and after extra time, and the winner had to be determined from the penalty spot. Mane had earlier failed to effectively convert a penalty in the seventh minute.
The West Africans won the match following a 4-2 shootout thanks to the former Liverpool forward’s successful final penalty kick.
After reaching the final of the 2002 and 2019 Afcon tournaments but failing to win it, Koulibaly guided the country to victory in the 2021 event, which was hosted by Cameroon.
“Before that penalty, we all went to him and told him ‘don’t worry, you know how to do this, you know how to do your job more than anyone else on this team. You have the nose for goals, so go and write history,” Kalidou Koulibaly told BBC Sports Africa TV.
“I do not have any words to describe him [Mane] anymore. He is a great player, super important, and is the kind of player that any coach would want to have. He is very professional.
“I was lucky to be in the same academy with him in Metz. I have known him for a very long time now, and our relationship has never changed.
“He is humble, always serving his team and his teammates.
“We also had a great goalkeeper, Edu, who performed well throughout the tournament, and when you have quality players like we have in Senegal, then it is easier.”
Kalidou Koulibaly will represent Senegal in the World Cup finals, which will take place in November in Qatar, following the Afcon victory in Cameroon. In the World Cup group stage, Senegal will compete against the Netherlands, Qatar, and Ecuador.
After that, they will concentrate on the 2023 Afcon qualifications to defend their title in the Ivory Coast finals if they qualify for it.
Kalidou Kevin Koulibaly, a professional football player for Chelsea of the Premier League and the Senegal national team, was born on June 20, 1991. He plays as a center defender.
After beginning his professional club career in 2010 with the French team Metz, Koulibaly transferred to the Belgian club Genk in 2012, where he won the Belgian Cup in his debut year. In addition to winning the Supercoppa Italiana in 2014 and the Coppa Italia in 2020, he joined the Italian team Napoli in 2014.
Koulibaly was initially a member of the France national team under-20 team because he was born in France to Senegalese parents, making him qualified to represent both countries at the international level.
Later, in 2015, he made his Senegal senior debut, and in 2017, he was a member of the Senegal team that competed in the Africa Cup of Nations.
The following year, he was selected for the team that represented Senegal at the FIFA World Cup, and he then led his team to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final.
Senegal, led by Koulibaly, defeated Egypt in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations final to claim the title.
Koulibaly Believes It is Africa’s Time At World Cup
Koulibaly thinks it’s finally time for an African country to hoist the World Cup championship.
The 31-year-old is anticipated to serve as the Lions of Teranga’s captain during the November–December 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar. Group A includes Senegal, the Netherlands, Qatar, and Ecuador.
Senegal didn’t advance past the group stage in the previous tournament, which was hosted in Russia in 2018, after losing to Colombia 1-0, drawing 2-2 with Japan, and defeating Poland 2-1.
After being tied with Japan on the first six tiebreakers, they were the first team in World Cup history to be eliminated using the fair play rule.
“We still remember the 2018 World Cup because we could have done better, we failed to qualify from the group stage and I was very sad about going home that early,” Koulibaly, who moved to Premier League outfit Chelsea from Napoli this summer, told BBC Sport Africa TV.
Koulibaly went on to say that African teams may achieve success if they set targets before traveling to the Gulf country.
Ghana, Cameroon, Tunisia, and Morocco are the other African nations qualified for the tournament in addition to Senegal.
“We should set our goals for ourselves, like in the Afcon in Cameroon when we qualified to the Round of 16, all the guys in the dressing room were like, oh great, and I was like guys we are not happy, our competition is just starting here, now if we lose one game we go back home, so we must always have our goals”, Koulibaly said.
“People in the streets of Senegal will tell us laughing, I hope you guys will win the World Cup, I do laugh back with them but in my head I really hope we will do it.”