Macky Sall (Getty Images)
Dakar – Senegal's president Macky Sall will drop the reigns of power for 12 days in June to support the Lions of Teranga at the Soccer World Cup in Russia.
"Following an invitation from the president of FIFA, Gianni Infantino, I am going to take 12 days leave to go to the World Cup and support the Lions to show them they are not alone," said Sall at a rally on Thursday when the national flag was presented to the team.
At the World Cup, Senegal play their three Group H games over 10 days, opening against Poland on June 19 in Moscow, before facing Japan on June 24 in Yekaterinburg and Colombia on June 28 in Samara.
Should Senegal win the group, Sall would have to extend his stay until July 3 for their next game.
"My deep conviction is that at this stage, all the national squads are equal, because the players who make them up all play in the same leagues as you," said the Senegalese president.
He cited Sadio Mane, whose name drew applause, pointing out that the Liverpool striker was absent because he "will be playing in the Champions League final in two days."
"Take each match as a final, give yourself unstintingly," he told the players who were there.
The squad were due to meet their public one more time with a public training session at the national stadium in Dakar before leaving for their camp in Vittel in northeastern France.
They play friendlies against Luxembourg on May 31 in the Grand Duchy, Croatia on June 8 in Osijek and on June 11 against South Korea behind closed doors in Austria.