Sadio Mane backs Liverpool to bounce back from Sunderland setback as he jets off for AFCON duty

Sadio Mane backs Liverpool to bounce back from Sunderland setback as he jets off for AFCON duty

Liverpool winger Sadio Mane believes his teammates can bounce back from Monday's disappointing draw at Sunderland in his absence, as he flies out to Gabon to take part in the Africa Cup of Nations for Senegal.

Charlie Malam

Sadio Mane is confident in the ability of his Liverpool teammates as he jets off to join Senegal for the Africa Cup of Nations although he acknowledged the disappointment of the draw at Sunderland.

The winger meets up with his international teammates in Gabon for the month-long tournament which could see him miss as many as eight games following the 2-2 draw at the Stadium of Light on Monday.

Mane looked like he would leave on the perfect note, poking in from close-range to make it 2-1 with less than 20 minutes left after Jermain Defoe's first-half penalty had cancelled out Daniel Sturridge's header. 

Yet Mane quickly turned from hero to zero, an unnecessary handball at a free-kick handing Defoe a chance to score again from 12-yards - which he duly did to earn the Black Cats a point and dent the Reds' title hopes subsequently.

Mane, speaking to after Jürgen Klopp's charges were pegged back late on, suggested that the quick turnaround in the fixture schedule - playing a second Premier League game within two days after the New Years' Eve defeat of Manchester City - had a part to play.

Liverpool will be ready for the next few games, says Mane

The 24-year-old insisted that it was a "really difficult" result to take because it wasn't "what we expected", adding: "We were winning and I think we played well and created a lot of chances, but we had to score. We didn't and it was a little bit of a problem."

Mane admitted Liverpool "have to accept it" and simply "prepare for the next games" yet declared it "not easy" to play two games in less than 48 hours.

Regardless, he said that they "have to accept" their fixture list as they are "professional" and it is the "job" of the players, reiterating that they "have to accept it" and "do our best for the team to win games" in the future.

The Reds' No.19 will turn his personal attentions to international duty, as he bids to help the Lions of Teranga to a first ever AFCON success, but believes Klopp's squad can continue their impressive form in his absence.

"We are in a good position but now what's important is the direction," Mane said, suggesting "everybody knows that" and that, consequently, Liverpool "will be ready for the next games."

He added that it "won't be easy" for him to leave the squad for Senegal because he "would like to help" his teammates, but continued: "I think they will understand. We have done good work and we have a strong team, so it will be no problem. They will do it."