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Diouf frontrunner for Africa’s best

Johannesburg: Senegal’s El Hadji Diouf is favourite to pick up his second consecutive African Footballer of the Year title.

The Liverpool striker is up against his international teammate Pape Bouba Diop and the Egyptian striker Ahmed Hossam for the award, which will be announced at the Confederation of African Football’s annual awards ceremony in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

While Diouf scored just two goals, one of them a penalty, in 15 international appearances last year, he is seen as the symbol of a Senegalese side that achieved beyond their wildest expectations in 2002.

Senegal reached the final of the African Nations Cup for the first time, losing only on penalties to Cameroon, and then reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup in South Korea and Japan after beating holders France.

Only Ghana’s Abedi Pele, who won it three times in a row, and the former World Footballer of the Year George Weah have been able to win successive African Footballer of the Year titles in the past.

Diop, from the French club Lens, was the scorer of the goal that saw Senegal beat France in the opening match of the World Cup in Seoul on May 31 last year.

He is also up for a nomination for the best televised goal for one of his two efforts against Uruguay in Daegu in the first round of the 2002 World Cup.

Hossam, recently loaned by Ajax Amsterdam to Celta Vigo of Spain after disciplinary problems, is the third candidate, based on Ajax’s League and Cup winning double performance last year.

Hossam, who scored a vital goal for Egypt in their African Nations Cup qualifier in Mauritius on Saturday, is also up for the African young footballer of the year award.

Senegal’s former coach Bruno Metsu is expected to win the Coach of the Year award again.

The flamboyant Frenchman, who is now with Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates who he has taken to the semi-finals of the Asian Champions League, was a winner at last year’s awards.

Senegal are also in line for the best goalkeeper category with Monaco’s Tony Sylva one of three nominees.

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