Diouf could end brief 'retirement'

Star striker El-Hadji Diouf could end his short-lived retirement from international football tomorrow when Senegal face Mali in Paris.

Star striker El-Hadji Diouf could end his short-lived retirement from international football tomorrow when Senegal face Mali in Paris.

Diouf, absent from a 3-1 win over Guinea last month in another friendly after reportedly quitting the Teranga Lions over various grievances, has been included in a 26-man squad.

But the two-time African Footballer of the Year faces a late fitness test as Senegal continue preparations for the biennial Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana in January and February next year.

Mali will miss star performer, Sevilla striker Frederic Kanoute, owing to a right calf strain that keeps him sidelined for two weeks and considerably reduces the fire-power of the Eagles.

Angola, South Africa and Tunisia, drawn in the same group as Senegal, will also be in action tomorrow as many top African nations take advantage of the European club break to get precious practice.

The toughest task faces Angola, who tackle Ivory Coast, a country many observers believe will win the Nations Cup a second time next year after losing the previous final to hosts Egypt on penalties.

Nigeria were delivered a double blow ahead of a game against Australia in London when Portsmouth strikers Nwankwo Kanu, another two-time African Footballer of the Year, and John Utaka were ruled unfit.

France-born Tunisia coach Roger Lemerre gives a first call-up to US Monastir defender Salah Mzali for the home friendly against shock Nations Cup qualifiers Namibia.

Ghana continue extensive preparations under French coach Claude le Roy by staging a four-nation tournament with semifinals tomorrow and Sunday, and the final next Wednesday.

Benin, another surprise inclusion in the Nations Cup line-up, face Togo in Accra followed 24 hours later by four-time African champions Ghana against the United Arab Emirates. - Sapa-AFP

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