Sadio Mane stepped into the lobby of Swissotel The Stamford yesterday afternoon with Apple AirPods in his ears but it was unlikely enough to drown out the adulation of the Liverpool fans present.
To the tune of The Archies’ Sugar Sugar, the 27-year-old forward was heartily serenaded by a crowd of 80 who belted out, “Oh Mane Mane!”
Some fans had been at the hotel as early as 10am to catch a glimpse of Mane, here with the Senegal national team for the first time. They are here to play their part in the Brazil Global Tour as the Selecao’s first opponents tomorrow before the South Americans play Nigeria on Sunday at the National Stadium.
Mane, clad in a cap bearing his SM10 initials, Senegal team jacket, white polo T-shirt and track pants, appeared somewhat amused by the strong support, but lingered to entertain as many autograph and wefie requests as possible.
Sylvester Ng could not help himself as he jumped and whooped in delight after securing a wefie and a signature on a Liverpool FC magazine featuring the No. 10.
The 18-year-old student, who had staked the hotel out since 1pm, told The Straits Times: “Shiok ah! I have supported Liverpool since I was in Primary 5, and Sadio Mane ever since he joined from Southampton in 2016, so you can say he is my childhood hero. I feel so, so lucky.”
C.T. Lim, a 45-year-old businessman, took time off work and brought his nine-year-old son Jia Le, who was clad in a Liverpool jersey. They were rewarded when Mane signed on their Champions of Europe book.
We like Mane not only because he is a good player, but he is also a kind-hearted person who gives back to society.
” C.T. LIM, Liverpool fan revealing the allure of Senegal’s Sadio Mane.
He said: “We like Mane not only because he is a good player, but he is also a kind-hearted person who gives back to society. We will also be supporting him and the other Liverpool players in the Brazil team from the front row on Thursday.”
In contrast to Brazil, who arrived in batches, the 23-man Senegal team and backroom staff touched down at 3.22pm at Changi Airport on the same 12-hour flight from Paris, where they had assembled.
The Lions of Teranga will be hoping their wretched luck in recent major tournaments does not follow them to Singapore.
At Russia 2018, they became the first team to be eliminated from a World Cup by the fair play criteria after all tie-breakers had been exhausted, having accumulated more bookings than Japan whom they drew 2-2 with in Group H.
Then, in July’s African Cup of Nations, Aliou Cisse’s men strode into the final, which they dominated, only to lose 1-0 to Algeria, who made their one shot at goal count.
Senegalese YouTuber Stan Diop, who runs the Les Outsiderz channel that covers the team, told ST: “Of course, when you lose under such circumstances, it is hurtful, but the mood is generally good within the team.
“We have the same coach since 2015 and the team have been largely successful. There is a good hype around the team and I think we can match the Brazilians.
“People see the Brazil superstars, but when we look at our players, we have Mane, who has played with and earned the respect of Brazilians like Roberto Firmino and Fabinho, one of the best defenders in Kalidou Koulibaly, and the new PSG fan favourite Idrissa Gueye.
“I was surprised to see fans stopping our goalkeeper coach Tony Sylva, which shows how knowledgeable some of them are here. Maybe not many people know about Senegal, so it would be nice to show to the world outside Africa what Senegal are about through these friendlies.”
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