Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Diouf Predicts a Tough Cup of Nations

El Hadji Diouf is back with the Senegal team after quitting a few months back.
Now, he's saying the 2008 edition of the African Cup of Nations will be the toughest one yet.

Can't say I disagree ...

"We have so many good teams in this year's tournament," he said.

"I think this is the hardest African Nations Cup ever to win because every team has good players."

Despite the tough competition, Diouf feels Senegal are capable of lifting the trophy on February 10th.

"This time, I think that if we play the way we did during the qualifiers, we have a chance. We have been to a final, semi-final and hopefully this year we can go all the way.

The Teranga Lions (great nickname) were beaten in the 2002 final on penalties by Cameroon and have reached the semi-finals on four other occasions.

Diouf threatened to retire from international football in October after criticizing the way the Senegal Football Association is run.

Luckily, their differences have been resolved.

"Well it's impossible to say that all the other players in Senegal are of any less importance, but it is fair to say that I am a rather symbolic player for the country.
I set out the problems that I had, all those problems have now been resolved."

"I could say that I was a little hot-headed in my approach to those problems but I'm not in a position, nor will I ever be in a position, where I could leave my countrymen to get on without me.

"I want to be there, as the captain it is not an option not to be there."

But add El Hadji to a growing list of footballing personalities calling for a change in Cup fixture dates.

"Players like me, Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto'o and a lot of other African players want to play this tournament in June," he said.

"If we did that then we wouldn't get problems from anybody.

"But don't forget that I'm an African. I'm very proud of my country.

"The clubs need to understand that we are only away for a month and wish us all the best and we in turn will wish them the same."

Gotta love Mr. Diouf. One of the colorful characters of the African game.

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