Nathan Ake laments Sadio Mane World Cup withdrawal

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Mane was initially named in the Senegal 26-man group for the global showpiece in Qatar under an injury cloud and has now had to pull out due to the calf injury sustained playing for Bayern Munich and for which the 30-year-old underwent surgery on Thursday. The former Liverpool star had a number encounters with Ake during his time in the Premier League, mainly whilst Ake was in the colours of Bournemouth but also towards the end of Mane's Anfield stint. Ake has been named in the Netherlands squad and could start in a star-studded Dutch defence featuring Virgil van Dijk and Matthijs de Ligt. The Oranje have been pooled in Group A with Senegal, hosts Qatar and Ecuador. Netherlands and Senegal meet in their opening match on Monday but the African champions will be without their talisman Mane in what is a huge blow for the Lions of Teranga. Mane has been in hot form for his country coming away with the Player of the Tournament at January's AFCON in Cameroon, where Senegal were crowned African kings for the first time. And Ake says that the absence of any world-class players from the tournament can only be a pity, although he and his teammates must be breathing a quiet sigh of relief at Mane's absence. "Not only him, but all of the injuries are a negative for the World Cup," said Ake. "The World Cup is for these kinds of players. I think everyone wants to see these kinds of players in the tournament. So it's not a good thing. "It's never a nice thing to see when someone gets injured, so he will be a big miss for the tournament. But will still go into the game against Senegal with the same mindset, even though he's not there, but we have to perform, because it's still going to be a tough match. "I still think it's going to be a very tough game. They have a lot of well-known players and their strike force is very powerful. Obviously Mane isn't going to be there, but still they have very good players. "From now on, we're going to analyse them and see how we're going to play against them. So for sure it will be a very tough game. "I think people see us as favourites to qualify from our group, but if you see teams like Senegal and the players they have in the team, it's not going to be easy, especially as they are our first game. After that game we can judge how we're going, but that first game will be vital."

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