5232 African Nations Cup Group D: D
by : Alex Wolstenholme
El Hadji Diouf may be an unlikely hero to many followers of English football but in Senegal, the captain of the Lions of Taranga is a hugely popular figure and the man charged with winning the African Nations Cup for the first time.
"This time, I think that if we play the way we did during the qualifiers, we have a chance," said the Bolton man recently.
"We have been to a final, semi-final and hopefully this year we can go all the way."
Coach Henryk Kasperczak has named a squad drawn almost exclusively from European football, with Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul the only exception.
Last weekend's warm-up game against fellow finalists Namibia brought a comfortable 3-1 win for Senegal, who end their preparations with a fixture against Benin on Wednesday before opening up in the tournament proper with a tough-looking clash against Tunisia.
Well-known for their exploits in the 2002 World Cup, Senegal have failed to reach those heights since and another failure in Ghana will lead even more to the success in Japan/Korea being looked back on as the one-off achievement of a 'golden generation' rather than the start of something more permanent.
Senegal to win group: 5/4 favourites
English interest: Plenty of Premiership clubs are represented in the Senegal squad with Habib Beye, Abdoulaye Faye (Newcastle), Ibrahima Sonko (Reading), Diomansy Kamara (Fulham), Papa Bouba Diop (Portsmouth) and Henri Camara (sometimes of West Ham) joining Diouf in Ghana.
Nations Cup record: Semi-finalists in 2006, Senegal came closest to winning the competition when runners-up in 2002.
Qualifying: Group 7 proved fairly comfortable for Senegal with a 100% home record helping to secure them top spot ahead of Mozambique.
Star Man: Mamadou Niang - The latest Marseille star to attract interest from Europe's top clubs, striker Niang has been in hot form this season.