Now or never for Senegal and Diouf

El-Hadji Diouf and Amine Chermiti will lead Senegal and Tunisia from the front.

    The time is now for Senegal and their star striker
    and captain El Hadji Diouf [GALLO/GETTY]

    Chermiti, along with fellow forward Issam Jomaa, are lesser known than some of their Senegalese opponents, but Jomaa finished as leading scorer in the qualifying rounds for the 2008 Cup of Nations with six goals, including a hat-trick against the Seychelles.
     

    "For me the African Nations Cup is as important as the World Cup."

    El-Hadji Diouf,
    Senegal captain

    Also in the Tunisian squad is Jaouher Mnari, scorer of the goal that beat Senegal in an ugly 2004 quarter-final at a fog-enveloped stadium on the outskirts of Tunis.
     
    Senegal boast not only the firepower of two-time African Footballer of the Year Diouf, but also Mamadou Niang from Marseille and Henri Camara from West Ham.
     
    "There is not a bad side at this tournament which means anyone can win it, but I have a real desire to succeed," said Diouf.
     
    "For me the African Nations Cup is as important as the World Cup."
     
    Building on successes
     
    There is a sense of now or never for many in a 'Teranga Lions' squad that has failed to build on the successes of six years ago when they finished runners-up to Cameroon in the Nations Cup after a penalty shootout.
     
    A few months later they were in South Korea, stunning defending champions France in the opening match of the 2002 World Cup and reaching the quarter-finals before tired legs and minds gave way to Turkey in extra time.
     
    Many of those heroes are in Tamale, including Diouf, Camara, goalkeeper Tony Sylva, club-less defender and captain Lamine Diatta and midfielder Papa Bouba Diop, known as the 'Wardrobe' because of his massive physique.
     
    Roger Lemerre, Tunisia coach, is the only manager to have won the European Championship and African Nations Cup.
     
    "It is going to be a very tough tournament and all I'm thinking about now is getting past our tough group," said Lemerre.
     
    Angola and South Africa are the other two teams in Group D, based in Tamale.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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