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Janssen up front for Dutch against Mane-less Senegal

Former Tottenham striker Vincent Janssen starts for the Netherlands in their opening World Cup game against Senegal on Monday, as the African champions look to put the loss of the injured Sadio Mane behind them.

Janssen, now playing for Royal Antwerp in Belgium, had not represented his country for almost five years before returning to the fold for the Netherlands’ UEFA Nations League campaign in June.

With Memphis Depay injured, he comes into an attack also featuring Steven Bergwijn of Ajax and PSV Eindhoven’s Cody Gakpo as three-time runners-up the Netherlands return to the World Cup stage after failing to qualify in 2018.

Depay scored 12 times in qualifying but the Barcelona forward has not played since September because of injury.

Coach Louis van Gaal also handed a debut in goal to giant Heerenveen shot-stopper Andries Noppert.

Senegal were dealt a huge blow on the eve of the tournament when Mane was forced to withdraw from the squad with a leg injury suffered playing for Bayern Munich earlier this month.

His place in the starting line-up is taken by Krepin Diatta of Monaco for the Group A clash at Al Thumama Stadium in Doha.

Crowned African champions for the first time earlier this year, Senegal only missed out on a place in the last 16 in 2018 by virtue of having a poorer fair-play record than Japan.

Group A rivals Ecuador and Qatar met in the tournament’s opening game on Monday, with the South American side beating the hosts 2-0.

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