Senegal legend, El Hadji Diouf at Agege Stadium
Senegal legend, El Hadji Diouf speaking to the press after Ambode Testimonial match

Two-time African Footballer of The Year El Hadji Diouf has declared that the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Egypt will be “so hard”.

Concise News reports that Diouf was speaking after the Testimonial match in honour of the outgoing governor of Lagos state, Akinwunmi Ambode. The match between the Africa XI and Naija Legends ended all square (4-4) at the Agege Stadium on Saturday in Lagos.

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“Nigeria have a good team. 24 teams (for the AFCON) 2019. And I think this African Nations Cup is gonna [sic] be so so [sic] hard. The winner of this Africa Nations Cup is going to be I think the team to be ready mentally and physically,” Diouf says.

On coming to Nigeria once more after previously playing an exhibition game in Kano state in 2017, he states:

“It’s always for me big game against Nigeria because, in that time, the players I used to play against were so wonderful. For me, it was a big honour to play against all these legends, (Nwankwo) Kanu, Jay Jay Okocha, all these boys.”

The Senegalese continues:

“Nigeria is a very big country. And everybody loves to come here. If I can come every month to Nigeria, I do it because (they have) wonderful people and I know they love so much football and I use to give them so much pleasure on the pitch. It is only in Nigeria you come for the charity game and you see the stadium is full. The people love football. It’s a pleasure.”

Diouf was outstanding in the match at the Soccer Temple, coordinating play and dictating the tempo as the African legends shared the spoils with Naija legends. The 38-year-old divulges what keeps him going.

“I’m a bad loser, I know myself. I’m a bad loser, and I accept it.”

The match featured ex-players like Didier Zokora, Stephen Appiah, Khalilou Fadiga, Diomansy Kamara, Titi Camara, Abdul Kader Keita, Herita Ilunga on the visiting players’ side and Taribo West, Tijani Babangida, Uche Okechuwku, Emmanuel Amunike, Kanu, Okocha, Mutiu Adepoju, Obafemi Martins, Victor Ikpeba, Julius Aghahowa, Ayo Makun A.Y, et al on the green and white side. Goalscorers are Fadiga, Keita, Titi Camara and Diouf for the Fanny Amun coached Africa XI team, while the net-shakers for Bonfrère Jo-coached Nigerian side are Kanu, Garba Lawal, Martins and AY.

Special Guest, George Weah of Liberia was ably represented by Minister Zeoga Wilson at the event. Also in attendance was Governor Ibrahim Dankwanbo of Gombe State among other dignitaries.