Having led the line for a Senegal team which was the star attraction at the 2002 World Cup along with talents like Kalilou Fadiga, Salif Diao, Pape Diop, Ferdinand Coly among others, El Hadji Diouf has played down rumours of any jealousy or trouble between the Liverpool duo of Sadio Mane and Mohammed Salah.
Mane, who is the biggest star of Diouf’s native Senegal, has been the standout player for Liverpool in the ongoing tussle for the Premier League title with Manchester City.
With Salah not having a magical season like that of 2017/2018 and especially going eight matches without a goal, some have started wondering if there could be a brewing rivalry or silent competition between the two.
When asked, Diouf, known for his controversial nature and disciplinary issues during his playing days, dismissed such thoughts.
According to him, the two Liverpool players are focussed on offering their best for their club and respective countries.
“I do not think there is jealousy or trouble between Mane and Salah,” he said.
What he sees, he said, is nothing but healthy competition between teammates driven by the same goal at club level.
“They are happy to play together and there is a healthy competition between them.
“They want to win the Golden Ball and before that the best player in Africa. This is life and we should not be sensitive about these things.
“I know them personally and understand their desire to reach their best level.”
While Mane will shoulder Senegal’s hope in the 2019 AFCON, Diouf is urging for a strong structure, robust support and the right team mentality.
“Winning a tournament needs a complete system,” he said, before adding: “The players have to be mentally and psychologically ready to fight in every game.
“Senegal needs players who are responsible and fans who are always committed and behind the team. We have a lot of very good players and great talents that must rise to the level of the event in order to achieve the title.
“Senegal Football Federation handles things very well now and is developing in an acceptable manner, which will help the players and the team to achieve positive results.”