The 22-year-old recently talked to FIFA.com about some big matches approaching for Les Lions de la Teranga and the fantastic start by The Saints, who sit second in the table behind only London giants Chelsea.
Mane, who moved to England from Austrian club Red Bull Salzburg in September, says the tight-knit Southampton side will do everything they can maintain their league position with two-thirds of the games yet to come. “I hope and I am confident that we can hold this pace and level of playing football," Mane said.
"Obviously, in the Premier League there are always the three, four or five big teams which can be found at the top of the table, but I am glad that so far, there are some teams up there that could be called a little surprise, including us.
Southampton's excellent start to the season has justified Mane's decision to sign for the Saints, even though he had several other offers. “Southampton is a big Premier League team with a long football tradition," Sane explained. "I always dreamed of playing in the Premier League, and I had a very good feeling about Southampton from the first contact.
"The entire philosophy, the smart way they progressively improved the team with dedicated transfers, the entire club environment and last but not least the highly professional and experienced coach, Ronald Koeman - that's why I chose Southampton as my next big challenge.”
I do not want to be over-optimistic, but I can feel that we may start playing a bigger role on the international level again.
Sadio Mane on Senegal's future
Mane, who started his European career in France with Metz before joining Salzburg, said he felt a part of the club immediately, which has shown on the pitch in his early season performances. It was his superb winner against Stoke City that took the Saints to second at the end of October. “The welcoming at Southampton was impressive," the forward said. "Entering a new environment is always challenging.
"All the players, not only [Kenyan] Victor [Wanyama] and [Zambian] Emmanuel [Manyka], but also some other French speakers like Morgan Schneiderlin and all the other players from the team accepted me in a super way.
“It’s always great to get to know new team-mates, and we already have a very tight team spirit, which is great. But also the coaching team, all the people in the club and especially the fans really supported me in settling down here in such short time. By now, I really feel home here, and I can focus on playing football as well as possible.”
Senegal trying to come good
After advancing to the knockout rounds of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations four consecutive times, Senegal have not done so for an equal number of events – failing to even quality for a pair of them. In Group G of the preliminaries for the 2015 AFCON, they are well-placed, but need points in this week's two matches - Saturday against Egypt in Cairo and next Wednesday in Dakar hosting Botswana - which are the final qualifiers.
“Our group is super competitive,” explained Mane. “We really have to focus on the next contest in Egypt - it’s a six-point-match. But we have the players and capabilities to win there to take the next big step towards the finals. At the finals, there will be the creme de la creme from the African continent.”
It is a challenge the ambitious young man seems to relish, and he has a buoyant attitude about having become a fixture in the Senegalese national set-up. “It is challenging, but I am proud to be an integral part of the national team already at such a young age," said Mane. "However, I still keep learning a lot from other older players while at the same time trying to be a role-model for even younger players. It’s just a good balance of experienced, skilful and young players in our team, and this is what make the spirit so special.”
Mane, who first played for the national team in 2012, believes better days for Senegalese football are on the horizon. “I do not want to be over-optimistic, but I can feel that we may start playing a bigger role on the international level again," he said confidently. "We have to focus on our strength which is playing football, creating a healthy team mentality.
"With all pulling at one string, we can grow and become more successful in the future. But this is a process, which only we are able to influence. So it’s totally up to us. But I am confident that we are able to deliver.”