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  Saturday, 10 August, 2002, 14:56 GMT 15:56 UK
Premiership's African picks
Lauren
Lauren's form came on in giant leaps last season

Over the last few seasons, the number of Africans playing in the English Premiership has massively increased.

Going into the new 2002-3 season, only three Premiership clubs - Blackburn, Sunderland and Tottenham - are without an African on their books.

After the World Cup finished, there was a major influx of some of the top performers, especially players from surprise quarter-finalists Senegal.

El Hadji Diouf now has the chance to become one of the world's biggest stars after being signed from Lens by Liverpool, where he will be joined by compatriot Salif Diao in December.

The Dakar Lions captain Aliou Cisse, meanwhile, has joined promoted Birmingham City.

Meanwhile Nigeria's Jay Jay Okocha completed a shock transfer to Bolton Wanderers, while Cameroon's Pierre Wome and Geremi Njitap have joined Fulham and Middlesbrough respectively.

Quinton Fortune
Fortune at last got a run for Man United - and then got injured...
Of course, some of the biggest names have not moved at all.

Arsenal's African pair of Lauren - who absolutely shone during the second half of the season - and Nwankwo Kanu remain with the current Champions and FA Cup holders.

Hoping to displace them in a team at the pinnacle of the Premiership will be a pair of South Africans, Leeds United's Lucas Radebe and Manchester United's Quinton Fortune, as well as Chelsea's Nigerian Celestine Babayaro.

But there are also those with lesser ambitions.

Youngsters like West Ham's Nigerian Izzy Iriekpen, for example, and West Brom's Malawian Tamika Mkandawire will merely be hoping to break into their club sides.

Because from Fortune to Fish, everyone is keen to keep getting a taste of one of the most exciting leagues in the world.


New seasons kick off
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