Virgil van Dijk on how he predicted that the Netherlands would be drawn to face Sadio Mane’s Senegal in the 2022 Qatar World Cup group stages

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Virgil van Dijk has revealed that he called Sadio Mane after Senegal qualified for the Qatar World Cup to predict that the Netherlands would be drawn against them in the group stages of the international tournament.

The former Southampton man also claimed that he had ‘so much respect’ for the African side following their recent Africa Cup of Nations success coupled with their qualification for the World Cup at the end of this year.

” I called him after he qualified and I said to him obviously well done and we joked about it that we were going to be in the same group – and it happened,” the 30-year-old said (via the club’s official website).

“It’s going to be so hard. They are obviously the African champions, fantastic players – and we as well – so it’s going to be tough. Opening game, 11 o’clock, I don’t know who decided to do [an] 11 o’clock kick-off, to be fair, but it’s going to be difficult.

“So much respect for Senegal and what they have achieved, but we have to be ready as well.

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The Dutch national side has been rocked recently with the sad news that their manager Louis van Gaal has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and the central defender has offered his support for the 70-year-old.

The World Cup is set to begin on November 21 meaning next season’s Premier League campaign and the other European league schedules will be disrupted.

It’ll certainly be interesting to see our No. 10 come up against our No. 4 – they are both world-class players in their respective positions and we’re sure both of them are relishing the challenge.

Before they can focus on international matters, though, we have three more trophies to win this season and we’ll need our main men at their best in the coming weeks.

Our hectic April schedule continues tomorrow when we face SL Benfica in Lisbon before travelling to the Etihad to face Manchester City on Sunday.

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