Aliou Cisse paid tribute to the absent Sadio Mane after Senegal booked their World Cup last-16 spot with a 2-1 win over Ecuador on Tuesday.
The Lions of Teranga leapfrogged their opponents into second in Group A as goals from Ismaila Sarr and Kalidou Koulibaly sealed their progression to the knockout stage for the first time since 2002.
The result also saw Senegal become the first African nation to beat a South American side at the World Cup since Cameroon overcame Colombia in 1990, ending a 21-game winless run.
Senegal’s talisman Mane was ruled out of Qatar 2022 after suffering a leg injury for Bayern Munich in the build-up to the tournament, but Cisse’s thoughts quickly turned to the forward in the aftermath of his side’s huge win.
“I would like to dedicate this victory to a man who is doing extraordinary things for the country, who is unfortunately not here today. This man is called Sadio Mane,” he said.
Senegal face the winner of Group B on Sunday, and Cisse says his side will be well-prepared for any opponent.
“We don’t know who we’re going to come up against in the round of 16 – it could be England, it could be Wales, Iran, USA, anyone,” Cisse added.
“Then that will be a new stage for us. We know that we are moving to the knockout stage, which is completely different from what we are used to playing in these types of [group] matches.
“Everyone is a good team, the best teams in the world that are competing. Therefore, we need to be prepared to come up against any side.
“It is now a win or lose situation, there are no second chances – if you win, you go through, if you lose, you go home.
“So for the moment, we are just going to concentrate on resting and getting fit for the next game, it is simple as that.”
1 – Senegal became the first African nation to beat a South American side at thesince Cameroon v Colombia in 1990, ending a 21-game winless run (D4 L17). Lions.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe)
Ecuador head coach Gustavo Alfaro lamented the fine margins that saw his side miss out on the last 16 and confirmed he needs some time to decide whether he will remain in the job.
“The margin of error was meagre and small details made the difference,” he said after seeing Moises Caicedo’s second-half equaliser followed by Koulibaly’s winner just moments later.
“We made key mistakes in the game. The pain of this defeat does not need to overshadow the achievements of this side, and we hope the experience serves them well in the future.”
Asked about his own position, the Argentine added: “I need time to know what I am going to do with my professional career.”