CAIRO – Senegal will be pinning their hopes on ace striker Sadio Mane in the Afcon quarterfinal match against underdogs Benin on Wednesday night - but coach Aliou Cissé has sounded a warning.
"Yes on paper we are one of the favourites to win the competition but papers do not decide anything. Benin's match might be a trap," said Cissé.
The game takes place at the June Stadium in Cairo (start at 18h00).
Cissé, who is the youngest coach at the Afcon tournament, says it is going to be a difficult match.
"If Benin is here in the quarterfinals this means that it is a team that has achieved good results in the tournament.
"In Africa, there are no more small teams, and we will take Benin very seriously. They are a good team with fine players and qualities in all compartments.
"This competition is difficult. Against Uganda, we suffered a bit but we have to get back to work. (Sadio) Mané is fighting for the team.
"He is a player who understands that the team is about more than one individual. We are ambitious and we know that we can go far in this competition. I have always said that we will play one match at a time.
“As for Benin, I’ll say it again and again, for the past four years I have been here trying to convince you that there are no small teams on the African continent anymore,” said Cisse.
“And I believe that this Afcon has shown that again, that winning in Africa is difficult, winning in Africa is complicated and wrong are those teams who think that a match is already settled.”
Senegal defender Salif Sané added: "We know what we are capable of. We are Senegal and we are here to win the trophy.
"But we do not underestimate this Benin team that have had a good tournament. I know some players from Benin who are friends and I know it's a team that will do everything to get past the quarterfinals."
Meanwhile, Benin coach Michel Dussuyer said: "We are on a rising curve and we are going to make this a great match to continue our adventure.
"The fact that we are among the top eight teams in Africa is a great achievement for Benin. We will play without pressure because that will be on Senegal.
"They are a very good team with tactical and physical qualities. Senegal are here to play for the title but we are determined to go as far as possible as well.
Benin defender Olivier Verdon said: "Senegal will be a huge challenge for us because they are one of the great teams in Africa.
"They have very good individual players but our group is good too, and I think we are better collectively.
"For us, it is the mindset that is important and we are feeling good at the moment."
African News Agency (ANA)