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El Hadji Diouf: “I’m Jealous of Players Wearing Bafana Jersey”

Pretoria - Former Senegal striker El Hadji Diouf has launched a plea to South African footballers to go and ply their trade abroad in order...

Pretoria - Former Senegal striker El Hadji Diouf has launched a plea to South African footballers to go and ply their trade abroad in order to reach the required level on the international stage.

Diouf is currently in the country as part of a Moroccan delegation aiming to garner useful tips as they prepare to bid for the hosting rights of the 2026 FIFA World Cup in a few weeks’ time.

The 37-year-old former Liverpool attacker paid a visit to SAFA House and was left impressed by the rich history of the country’s football, which has featured stars such as Doctor Khumalo, Neil Tovey, Mark Fish, Lucas Radebe, etc.

He then admitted that the country boasts some of the best talent he has ever seen, before proceeding to urge the current crop of players to aspire to emulate the success of yesteryear’s Bafana Bafana heroes.

“I’m so jealous of the players wearing the Bafana Bafana jersey, because we’re playing football to be somebody and, if you look all over the walls [at SAFA House], I don’t think managers, the president or members have to say much. Players must already know what is expected of them, which is to be legends like these players [on the walls],” Diouf told
Percy Tau is Regarded as the Best in South Africa

“I’m so happy to be here because, if you talk about South African football, it’s got the most competitive teams on the continent – Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and now Mamelodi Sundowns, who have so many great players.

“My request to the young players is not to think about themselves, staying home and being comfortable. South Africa needs them; Africa needs them to go abroad, playing with the big teams and coming back to be winners.

“I sometimes watch them [Bafana] play – like when they played three times against Senegal – and they play the best football I’ve ever seen in my life. But there’s [clearly] a lack of experience and players have to go out and get it, because South Africa needs it.”

Diouf reiterated his admiration for Mzansi’s ‘big three’ clubs, and reserved special praise for the Brazilians' star player Percy Tau, whom he believes needs to test himself in Europe as soon as possible in order to help the national team return to its glory days.

“I don’t understand why players only want to stay here and want to play here [in the PSL]. I like to watch South African football, and I’m interested. I like to watch Chiefs, Pirates and Sundowns – the way they’re doing well now on the continent,” he added.

“Players have to go and play abroad. You have so much talent – I saw the guy who scored the goal against Senegal; he plays for Sundowns [Percy Tau] – he’s a very good footballer and he has to leave this country and go play abroad for the benefit of South African football.

“I think if [players move abroad], it will be like back in the day when South Africa was very successful when they had players playing for Leeds United – like Lucas Radebe, Benni McCarthy – for FC Porto, Aaron Mokoena.

“So, I reiterate what I said to the boys: You have talent, you have everything, but you have to go out and play for the big teams., because South African football and SAFA needs it.”

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