Senegal AFCON 2023 squad reaction: Can Mane and co break 14-year curse?

Senegal made history in 2022 when they won their first Africa Cup of Nations title, beating Egypt in the final in a match that went all the way to a penalty shootout.

The last team to defend their AFCON title successfully were Egypt in 2010 with the pressure of going into the tournament as holders proving too much for all other winners over the past 14 years. Is the Senegal AFCON 2023 squad still strong enough to compete or has their time been and gone?

Latest Senegal AFCON 2023 outright odds

Senegal afcon outright odds

Senegal AFCON 2023 squad review

Aliou Cissé has selected 15 players who were in the AFCON winning squad in 2022 which suggests that Senegal will be a big threat once again this year. The only real shock in his squad is the inclusion of Boulaye Dia.

The talented forward, who has been linked with a move to West Ham in recent times, was seemingly ruled out of the competition with a thigh injury after he was forced off in a match between Salernitana and AC Milan a week ago. However, Cisse has taken a gamble on him in the hope that he could be fit for the latter stages of the tournament.

Additionally, six Premier League players have been named in the Premier League while former PL stars, Sadio Mane, Ismaila Sar and Kalidou Koulibaly are also involved. This will make the predicted Senegal XI the most recognisable team in the tournament for UK viewers.

Full Senegal AFCON 2023 squad

Goalkeepers

  • Edouard Mendy (Al-Ahli)
  • Mory Diaw (Clermont)
  • Seny Dieng (Middlesbrough)

Defenders

  • Youssouf Sabaly (Real Betis)
  • Kalidou Koulibaly (Al-Hilal)
  • Moussa Niakhate (Nottingham Forest)
  • Abdou Diallo (Al Arabi)
  • Formose Mendy (Lorient)
  • Abdoulaye Ndiaye (Troyes)
  • Abdoulaye Seck (Maccabi Haifa)
  • Fode Ballo-Toure (Fulham)
  • Ismail Jakobs (Monaco)

Midfielders

  • Lamine Camara (Metz)
  • Pape Matar Sarr (Tottenham)
  • Krepin Diatta (Monaco)
  • Cheikhou Kouyate (Nottingham Forest)
  • Pape Gueye (Marseille)
  • Nampalys Mendy (Lens)
  • Pathe Ciss (Rayo Vallecano)
  • Idrissa Gana Gueye (Everton)

Strikers

  • Nicolas Jackson (Chelsea)
  • Abdallah Sima (Rangers)
  • Boulaye Dia (Salernitana)
  • Sadio Mane (Al Nassr)
  • Habib Diallo (Al-Shabab)
  • Iliman Ndiaye (Marseille)
  • Ismaila Sarr (Marseille)
Senegal AFCON 2023 squad reaction
Can Sadio Mane lead Senegal to AFCON glory once again? – Photo by Icon Sport

In-form players

Sadio Mane may not be the same player he was two years ago when he was one of Liverpool's best players but the forward is still capable of moments of magic. For Al Nassr this season, Mane has scored eight goals and provided four assists in the Saudi Pro League, helping his side to second in the league table.

With Dia injured for the group stages at least Mane will need help from Nicolas Jackson at the top end of the pitch. The Chelsea forward is enjoying a better season than both Diaye and Sarr and should therefore get the nod to spearhead the Senegal attack. Jackson has scored seven Premier League goals this season in an unsettled Chelsea team.

In midfield, Pape Matar Sarr should be a shoo-in to start for Senegal. In his debut season for Tottenham, Sarr has excelled in midfield and will be a big miss for Ange Postecoglou during AFCON. He will look to sit in front of the Senegalese defence and break things up to allow their talented forwards to do their thing.

Tactical analysis

Senegal would have perhaps been hoping for an easier group as tournament holders but provided they get through their tricky opening fixtures, it should stand them in good stead for what's to come in the knockout stages.

They open up their campaign with a match against Gambia which, on paper at least, is their easiest group fixture. They will be certainly going all out for three points here to set themselves up for a positive group stage but they goals won't come easy. Gambia captain, Omar Colley, is a regular in the Besiktas back line and has fantastic experience at the highest level.

Senegal then face their trickiest match of the group stages against Cameroon. Only Egypt have more AFCON titles than Cameroon and their current squad possesses the likes of Vincent Abubakar, who was the top scorer at AFCON 2021 with eight goals.

Finally, Senegal will play Guinea but they will be hoping to have qualification secured by this point so they can rest their star players ahead of the knockout stages. The match could also provide Cisse with the opportunity to introduce Boulaye Dia to the tournament should his recovery go well.

Vincent Aboubakar
Can Vincent Aboubakar replicate his form at AFCON 2021? – Photo by Icon Sport

Current odds

Senegal are currently the favourites to win AFCON 2023 with odds of 6/1 (7.0).

Senegal AFCON Trivia

  • Senegal have appeared in 17 AFCONs over the years, with their first appearance coming in 1965.
  • Senegal have reached the AFCON final in the last two editions of the tournament.
  • Senegal have more Premier League players (six) in their squad than any other nation competing at AFCON 2023.
  • Senegal didn't lose a single match in AFCON 2021.
  • Abdoulaye Ndiaye could make his Senegal debut in the tournament.

Avatar of Andy Delaney
Andy Delaney

Andy is a freelance Sports Journalist with ten years of experience covering football in the United Kingdom and abroad for various publications including the Manchester Evening News, UtdReport and Football Whispers. Andy also has a keen interest in basketball, cricket, golf and tennis and has covered major sporting events such as the Masters in Augusta.