El Hadji Diouf is back in Senegal, not to honour an invitation to join the national team but to simply watch them play against Cote D’Ivoire on Saturday during the final round of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying.
Although the Leeds United winger is still burning with anger for not being called up for the clash by coach Joseph Koto, he was overwhelmed by the thousands of fans who turned up to welcome him at the Leopold Sedar Senghor Airport in Dakar on Wednesday when he touched down.
Wearing jerseys of the 33-year-old from his previous clubs – Liverpool, Sunderland, Blackburn and Lens - the locals cheered the “Bad Boy” and accompanied his car from the airport to town.
“This is wonderful. I didn’t expect to get such a warm welcome,” Diouf told reporters before announcing he would buy 1000 tickets for Saturday’s match and distribute to his fans.
The Senegal football federation lifted a five-suspension imposed on Diouf two years ago following his media outburst against members of the body.
Many Senegalese had thought the measure was to allow his return to the Teranga Lions fold ahead of the decisive clash against the Elephants, but the coach declined to summon the player.
Senegal need at least two unanswered goals to down Cote D’Ivoire and book their place for the South Africa 2013, after they lost 4-2 in the first leg played in Abidjan last month.