Sadio Mane has finally marked his return from a long injury layover that kept him sidelined for the better part of the past three and a half months. He came on as a second half substitute in each of Bayern Munich’s last two Bundesliga games — wins over VfB Stuttgart and Union Berlin — and both shifts were clocked at just over 20 minutes. It’s decent progress ahead of the all-important second leg against Pairs Saint-Germain in the Champions League round of 16.
Mane sustained a knee injury in the Bayern’s 6-1 Hinrunde win over Werder Bremen, which resulted in the devastating news that he wouldn’t be able to go to the World Cup in Qatar with Senegal. He is usually the captain for his national team and he very well could have helped his side get further had he been there. Senegal wound up losing to England 3-0 in the round of 16.
In a recent interview with Sport Bild’s Christian Falk and Tobi Altschaffl (via @iMiaSanMia), Mane expressed his delight to finally be back on the pitch for Bayern ahead of the crucial stretch as we head into the final stages of the Bundesliga, Champions League, and DFB-Pokal.
“It was a long time, but now I’m feeling a lot better,” Mane said after nearly four months on the sidelines. “Standing on the pitch with my teammates and having the ball at my feet again makes me happy. The club took care of me very well.”
Senegal’s footballing federation was ready to do everything in its power to try to have Mane fit enough to join the rest of the squad in Qatar for the World Cup, but there was simply nothing that could be done. Mane’s injury was serious enough to keep him behind and a subsequent spell on the sidelines. It was a difficult pill for him to swallow, but he was able to accept the situation for what it was.
“Of course not being at the World Cup hurt me,” Mane said. “I was sad, but it happens. I had to accept the difficult situation and stay optimistic. It wasn’t easy mentally, but this experience can help me in the future,” he humbly explained.