Diouf confirms Senegal U-turn

1 November 2007 at 09:50 | 3145 views

By Piers Edwards ,BBC Sport, Dakar, Senegal.

Senegal captain El Hadji Diouf(pictured) has renounced his decision to quit international football.

The 26-year-old’s anticipated return to the Teranga Lions was confirmed late on Tuesday in a signed statement.

"[I am] Very sensitive to the different queries concerning my decision to suspend my activities within the national team.

"I have decided - with humility - to rejoin the national team of my country which I love deeply," the forward said.

Diouf declared he was quitting Senegal earlier this month, although he later denied - unconvincingly - that he had resigned from the Teranga Lions.

"Diouf is coming back - and this is very good," Senegalese Football Federation (FSF) vice-president Cher Seck confirmed to BBC Sport on Wednesday.

Local media report that prominent Senegalese such as legendary singer Youssou N’dour, Sports Minister Issa Mbaye Samba and the mayor of Dakar talked to Diouf about his decision to quit.

On 8 October, the Bolton Wanderers star told a radio station he was stepping down from the national team in frustration at the ’amateurish’ administration of the FSF.

At the time, sources close to the player believed it was a mere ruse to galvanise the FSF into action, and several of Diouf’s reasons for quitting have since been addressed.

Unpaid bonus payments for Senegal’s qualification for next year’s Nations Cup finals in Ghana were duly settled and, unusually, players then received their match fees for this month’s friendly victory over Guinea just hours after the match.

One of Diouf’s main complaints was the inability of the federation to organise friendly internationals on time, with Guinea only being announced as Senegal’s opponents just seven days before the match.

Following the recent Nations Cup draw, which pits the Teranga Lions against South Africa, Tunisia and Angola in Group D, the FSF has organised its warm-up for the competition.

On 17 November, the 2002 World Cup quarter-finalists will play Mali in Paris, and then face Morocco in the French capital four days later.

There are further plans to host Namibia in a friendly in Dakar on 10 January, with the final warm-up match against Ivory Coast in Abidjan on 17 January.

Boasting the likes of Mamadou Niang, Diomansy Kamara and Henri Camara, Senegal enter Africa’s premier football competition as outsiders to win the competition.

However, their chances of lifting the trophy are greatly enhanced by the return of the talismanic Diouf, a two-time African Footballer of the Year.

Credit: BBC Sports.