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Last Updated:  Saturday, 29 March, 2003, 14:15 GMT
Lions lacking a leader
James Copnall
BBC Sport in Dakar

Khalilou Fadiga is one of the players who could have taken the captaincy
Fadiga will be sorely missed
Senegal flew off to Gambia on Friday evening in a confident mood after four days of training at the national stadium despite big selection problems.

New coach Guy Stephan had a cheery air as he contemplated his first competitive match in charge of the Lions.

"It will be a great honour to coach Senegal on Sunday against Gambia," he said.

"But the most important thing is that the team gets a good result.

I would love to captain my country, but I think it is unlikely
El Hadji Diouf
"We have trained well this week, and unlike before my first game in charge I have had a lot of time to assess my players."

Stephan's first match, a friendly loss to Morocco last month, is perceived by many Senegalese players as a welcome wake-up call.

"Losing to Morocco was probably a good thing," midfielder Salif Diao admitted.

"It showed us we could be beaten, and made us come down off our cloud.

"Now we will be fully concentrated for the Gambia game."

Diao himself may however miss the match.

The Liverpool star has a leg injury and sat out training on Friday.

Added to the absences through injury and suspension of Aliou Cisse, Omar Daf, Moussa Ndiaye, Lamine Diatta and Khalilou Fadiga, it means the Lions will field an unfamiliar line-up.

And with both Cisse and his stand-in Fadiga missing, who will captain the African team of the moment remains a mystery.

Diao would have been a strong candidate, before his injury.

A less likely option is El Hadji Diouf.

"I have never been asked to do it before," Diouf confided.

"I would love to captain my country if I get the chance - but I think it is unlikely to happen!"


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