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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 December 2007, 10:39 GMT
Diouf predicts tough Nations Cup
Senegal and Bolton's El Hadji Diouf
El-Hadji Diouf is predicting the toughest African Cup of Nations yet
Senegal's El Hadji Diouf believes he can help his country to win their first ever African Cup of Nations title.

The Bolton Wanderers' star says victory in Ghana would be even sweeter because he believes the next month's Nations Cup will be the toughest yet.

"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 competition Diouf feels his side are capable of lifting the trophy on 10 February.

"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 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 criticising the way the Senegal Football Association is run.

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

His differences with the local football authorities have since been resolved however.

He said: "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."

Once again Diouf has urged for a change in the dates of the Nations Cup.

"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."

SEE ALSO
Diouf set for Senegal return
15 Nov 07 |  African
Diouf urges Nations Cup review
05 Nov 07 |  African
Diouf confirms Senegal U-turn
31 Oct 07 |  African
Diouf ends international career
08 Oct 07 |  African


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