Senegal’s medical team had to be given the benefit of the doubt over the decision to let Liverpool’s Sadio Mane play on after suffering a head injury in their AFCON victory over Cape Verde, says the medical doctor assigned to the tournament.
Mane clashed with Cape Verde keeper Vozinha as he chased down a kick from keeper Edouard Mendy in the second half, leaving both players down with head injuries.
Vozinha was concussed and stumbled around the field for several minutes before being persuaded to go off by his team-mates, and was eventually given a red car by VAR for the incident.
Mane was allowed to come back on to the field after receiving medical attention and shortly afterwards scored a brilliant goal to give Senegal the lead in the 62nd minute. However, as Mane celebrated with his team-mates, he collapsed to the ground and then left the field shortly afterwards, complaining of a headache and was taken to hospital.
CAF (Confederation of African Football) medical doctor Dr Thulani Ngwenya says Liverpool have no reason to be worried about the health of the forward, with the Reds in regular contact with the Senegal camp.
“We have a very capable medical team. Senegal have two team doctors, who are highly commended,” Dr Ngwenya said.
“I know the team doctors are responsible, so they communicate with the club and I understand that they have actually communicated with Liverpool and they have been told what is actually happening.
“What I know, is that after taking Mane for further investigations, we scanned the head and there was no structural damage, but that does not rule out concussion. I’m confident that my colleagues are taking care of the player and the player was in good spirits when I saw him in the hospital.
“I’m not sure whether he will be available for the next match because when you look at the protocols I don’t whether he will be ready and I can’t make that assessment. That judgement can only be made by the team doctors that are managing him on a daily basis.”
Dr Ngwenya continued: “When we arrived, Sadio said he was a little bit dizzy but he wants to continue because he’s a patriotic person and loves to play. But at that time, he really didn’t understand that dizziness is actually a sign of concussion and even if you’ve got one sign it’s still concussion so he was really concussed.
“I’m not very fluent in French but colleagues tried to calm down the player and to explain that if you continue it’s going to be worse.
“I’ve heard a number of people saying why wasn’t he removed from the game? Well, the medical assessment is based on what you see and what you assess at that particular time. The medical team spent quite a significant amount of time assessing Mane so it might have been that during the assessment at that time the medical team came to a decision that it was just a head collision, not concussion because they couldn’t pick up anything that was concussion.
“We need to give the benefit of the doubt to them because you can make an assessment at the time and then two minutes later it’s different. But when I went in there were features of concussion hence it was easy for me to actually make that call to say we need to remove the player out of the game.
“The player is not capacitated to make a decision because they are confused so it’s you as a doctor that needs to make a decision on their behalf.”
Later on Tuesday, both Mane and Vozinha were pictured together smiling and giving the thumbs up from hospital. Mane was later discharged and re-joined his team-mates at their hotel.
‘Winning more important than player health again’
Sky Sports News contacted CAF for clarification on the concussion protocols which allowed Mane to remain on the pitch and which have been criticised by Luke Griggs, chief executive of brain injury charity Headway.
“On the face of it, this seems to be yet another example of football putting results ahead of player safety,” he said. “This was a sickening collision that clearly left both players in enough distress for a concussion to have surely been considered a possibility at the very least.
“At that point, the principle of ‘if in doubt, sit it out!’ should have resulted in Mane being substituted without another ball being kicked. The image of the player collapsing on the ground and having to be helped from the pitch after scoring his goal should tell you everything you need to know about the impact and the effect it had had on his brain.
“Yet again, the desire to win is seen as being worth serious risks to players’ health. It is simply shocking that this continues to happen.
“This is now a real test of leadership for The Confederation of African Football and world governing body Fifa – particularly if Senegal declare Mane fit for Sunday’s quarter-final. If football wants to be taken seriously when it comes to concussion, it simply must take action to enforce and strengthen its protocols.”
Substitute Bamba Dieng scored Senegal’s second goal deep in stoppage time against a gallant Cape Verde side, who also had Patrick Andrade sent off after 20 minutes.
It remains to be seen whether Mane will be able to feature for the Lions of Teranga in the quarter-final on Sunday against either Mali or Equatorial Guinea.
Were the concussion rules followed?
The Confederation of African Football’s medical protocols state that if there is a suspected concussion it is down to the team doctor to authorise a player’s return to play. Sky Sports News has contacted CAF for futher information and clarification.
What have FIFA said?
A FIFA spokesperson said: “FIFA takes its responsibility in relation to concussion in football very seriously as protecting the health of players is – and will remain – a top priority in developing the game.
“Following FIFA’s input, consultation with key stakeholders and recommendations from the Concussion Expert Group (CEG) and The IFAB’s Football and Technical Advisory Panels (FAP-TAP). The IFAB’s Annual Business Meeting (ABM) approved extensive trials with additional permanent substitutions for actual or suspected concussion as of January 2021. The trials are expected to continue beyond the initial end date (August 2022) to be able to gather more relevant data.
Diao: Mane cleared by doctors
Former Senegal and Liverpool midfielder Salif Diao has spoken to Mane and said the forward is expected to play in Sunday’s quarter-final.
“I spoke to him yesterday, just after he left the hospital, and he said everything was clear,” Diao told Sky Sports News. “From what I understood he has been cleared by the doctors and should be OK.”
AFCON 2021 quarter-final fixtures and results
Saturday January 29
Quarter-final 1: Cameroon vs Gambia, 4pm (Japoma Stadium, Douala) – Live on Sky Sports
Quarter-final 2: Burkina Faso vs Tunisia, 7pm (Roumde Adjia Stadium, Garoua) – Live on Sky Sports Premier League
Sunday January 30
Quarter-final 3: Round-of-16 game 7 winner vs Morocco, 4pm (Olembe Stadium, Yaounde) – Live on Sky Sports Premier League
Quarter-final 4: Senegal vs Round-of-16 game 8 winner, 7pm (Japoma Stadium, Douala) – Live on Sky Sports Football
Sky Sports to show AFCON live
The Africa Cup of Nations tournament will be broadcast live on Sky Sports in January and February.
The tournament, originally scheduled to be played in June and July 2021, will be played in Cameroon between January 9 and February 6, 2022, with Sky Sports showing all 52 games live.
Twenty-four teams will take part, kicking off on January 9 as hosts Cameroon host Burkina Faso in Yaounde, before culminating in the final on February 6 in the capital.
Source : Sky Sports