El-Hadji Diouf: Senegal team 'has no soul'

Karim Farouk, Monday 30 Jan 2012

Former African player of the year blasts Coach Amara Traore, holds him responsible for Senegal's debacle at 2012 African Cup of Nations

Hadji Diouf (Photo: Reuters)

Entering the competition with very high hopes, the Teranga Lions conceded three straight defeats in the group stage to register one of their worst performances ever.

“The Senegal team has no soul. I have always said that Amara Traore knows nothing. He doesn’t have the level of experience and knowledge to handle the team,” Diouf said in televised statements.

“Traore and the FA guys used the victory against Cameroon and the qualification to the 2012 AFCON to launch the Teranga Lions as a squad to be reckoned with on the continent, without really checking to see the true capacity of the team," he said. “The team is weak."

Senegal ousted former champions Cameroon and RD Congo in the qualifiers to reach the finals after missing the 2010 edition in Angola.

With the likes of Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse, Moussa Sow and Mamadou Niang, the Teranga Lions were tipped to become a major title contender.

“I predicted the failure of Senegal at the 2012 AFCON, and it has happened. The FA people are jealous of Senegal’s 2002 generation. They don’t want to associate us with the team," said the 31-year-old Doncaster forward who was dropped by Traore.

Diouf has been inspirational in Senegal's golden age, leading his country to its best-ever performance by reaching African Cup finals in 2002 and World Cup quarterfinals in 2002.

His career has since gone downhill, however. He has gone from playing for Liverpool to playing for Bolton, Sunderland, Blackburn, Rangers and now England second-tier side Doncaster.

Diouf revealed plans to take over Senegal as a replacement for Traore, who confirmed that he had no intention of stepping down.

"I’m completing my coaching course in England. I could be useful to the team, but they have mixed politics with football in Senegal,” he concluded.

It is a point-of-view not shared by many – even some of his former colleagues, such as defender Omar Daf and current skipper Mamadou Niang, who have both called for calm and urged the team to retain coach Traore.

"There's no rush to dismantle this team. We must not throw it all away after this failure. This group has a lot of talent and their day will come," Niang said after Senegal's defeat at the hands of Libya.

He added: "We should analyse the situation and continue our build up. Sacking the coach will break the team's composure."

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