Africa Cup of Nations

No Nigeria: Ex-Liverpool forward Diouf predicts Afcon 2021 champions

20:55 WAT 03/01/2022
El Hadji Diouf
The African football icon has suggested the team to emerge as champions of the African football showpiece, ruling out the Super Eagles

El Hadji Diouf has tipped Senegal to emerge as champions of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, overlooking Nigeria.

The 33rd edition of the African football showpiece commences on Sunday evening with 24 teams out for the top prize.

While hosts Cameroon would be eyeing a sixth African diadem, reigning African kings Algeria are aiming to defend the title won three years ago in Egypt.

And the former Liverpool, Bolton Wanderers and Leeds United forward is of the opinion that the Lions of Teranga will emerge as champions when the final is played on February 6 at the Olembe Stadium in Yaounde.

To him, anything short of the top prize would be a failure for Aliou Cisse’s squad.

“My first favourite is Senegal, who lost last edition final to Algeria, and today we must win,” Diouf told Caf website.

“Anything we do without winning the trophy will be a failure. There are other great teams, and it will be a very tough competition.

“Perhaps, the toughest in recent years and in a country that loves football. It would be a big football party.”

Diouf, who was named African Player of the Year on two occasions, was part of the Senegalese side that bowed to Cameroon during the final of the 2002 Afcon staged in Mali.

When asked where the Bruno Metsu-led Lions of Teranga got it wrong against the Indomitable Lions at the Stade du 26 Mars in Bamako, the 40-year-old said: “I can say experience.

“There was talent and determination but the only experience was lacking in our Mali adventure.

“Rather, we played on our quality without calculating. It would have taken a little bit of experience to win those kinds of games.”

The retired forward also talked about the differences between the 2002 class of Senegal and the current one.

“The difference between the two generations is that this one has been fortunate enough to have played together for several years, and to have taken part in many Africa Cup of Nations finals,” Diouf added.

“They've played at some big clubs and they're leaders there. Also, they've learned how to win.

“In our time that was not the case, not all of us played for big clubs. I can say that this generation has everything to win the Afcon title now. These players need the support of all Senegalese.”

Senegal are zoned in Group B alongside Malawi, Guinea and Zimbabwe.

Cisse's men will commence their campaign against the Warriors on January 10 at the Kouekong Stadium, Bafoussam.