|Diouf & Fadiga @ the SJAG 2010 Awards|
They lost to Cameroon in Bamako, Mali in a penalty shootout during the final of the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations, sent parking controversially in the quarter finals of the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup, yet Senegal stars continue to receive honours.
The latest coming from the Sports Journalists Association of The Gambia (SJAG), nine years later, with awards to Senegal stars Elhaji Diouf, Khalilou Fadiga and Alasan Ndoure.
The three arrived in Banjul on Friday to attend the 3rd Edition of the SJAG National Sports Awards on July 2, 2011, which coincided with celebrations marking the “2011 World Sports Journalists Day”.
The awards, according to SJAG, are in recognition of the players’ contribution to African and world football nine years ago, when they took the world by surprise by beating the defending champions, France in the opening of the 2002 World Cup.
After dampening down the high hopes of the French, Senegal went on to draw Denmark and Uruguay in the group stages.
They sendoff Sweden in the second round only to be controversially booted out of the competitions by Turkey at the quarter final stage, a point that has remained the highest that an African country has managed to reach in the game’s biggest tournament, the world cup.
Diouf and Fadiga played a crucial role during the process of qualifying and the competition proper and as such the former was honoured with the “African Player of the Year Award” on two occasions.
After receiving his award on Saturday night, Diouf said: “The successes of the 2002 generation of the Senegal football team in African and World football is an honour not only to the players but to the people of Senegambia.”
“Gambia is just like a home to us because our 2002 national team kicked off their qualifying campaign in The Gambia prior to their game against Algeria. It is the prayers and support of Gambians that made us lucky to have one of the best things in our football career.”
The Blackburn player is far from quitting the game; however, he is already considering becoming a coach after he has hanged his boots. He said: “I want to be a coach after I retire from football,” he said during a press conference.
Known for his outbursts, Diouf added his voice to the recent protests in his country, Senegal, saying: “If people are not happy, they will go out on the streets to show their anger, but if they are happy, they will not do such a thing.” “Nobody denies Senegalese not to show their anger, but they should not destroy any thing, because at the end it belongs to them. If you have a leader that is not making you happy, remove him as he is there to serve the interest of the people who put him in that position.”
He adds: “If people are not happy with the government, election is coming, they own their votes and they can vote the president out and vote in someone who will serve their interest.”
Many people were worried about my health condition when I signed for Inter Milan. I received many goodwill messages from The Gambia, Senegal, Africa, Asia, Europe and America during this time. Now I am in good health all because of God, Khalilou Fadiga who was diagnosed with a heart problem by Milan doctors said after receiving his award.
This development cut his promising football career short when he was forced to hang his boots in 2009.
The midfield maestro cited his brotherly love for Gambians. He noted that he was the closest brother to Gambians because he has played alongside Gambian star Ebou Sillah in the Belgian league.
Fadiga is now involved in a project initiated Senegal and Belgium to help aspiring African footballers become professionals.
His contemporary, Alasan Ndoure who was also decorated on the Night, said he was “happy to be in Gambia”, a country he described as being “one” with Senegal, hence, the name “Senegambia”.