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This will be one of the toughest AFCON tournaments, says Sadio Mane

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Senegal captain and talisman, Sadio Mane believes that the  CAF Africa Cup of Nations, Cote d’Ivoire 2023 will be the toughest compared to previous editions.

The Teranga Lions skipper was speaking to CAFOnline on the nations’ chances of defending the title and what such a feat would mean to him and the nation.

Senegal are pitted in what many have deemed as the group of death where they will be up against Cameroon, Guinea and The Gambia in Group C.

Sharing his views on their tough group and the rest of the competition, Mane said the team was expecting a difficult competition as all the big African nations had qualified for the Cote d’Ivoire edition and would all be aiming to do well.

“We know it won’t be easy but we will be there to do our best and try to go through every round. We are expecting a tough competition. This competition will be one of the strongest since I started playing in it because all the big countries are here and they all have their targets, but we will see what will happen”, said the skipper.

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Asked on what it would mean for him personally to lift the title in succession, the 31-year-old star said it would be a special achievement as the  AFCON trophy remains one of the best trophies he has won in his glittering career.

“Firstly, winning the AFCON was the best trophy I have ever won in my life and coming to do it again will be special and a big achievement. It’s been a dream to play in this competition since I was a kid and we will do our best.  Winning the AFCON will be a big impact for our football because we have won all the other categories which is great for the country” concluded Mane.

Senegal kick off their title defense against The Gambia on Monday, 15 January before the ultimate clash of the Lions when they face the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon three days later.

They conclude their Group C campaign against Guinea on Wednesday, 23 January.

All their matches will take place at the Stade Charles Konan Banny Stadium in Yamoussoukro which will also play host to a Round of 16 and quarter-finals of the competition.

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-CAF

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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