Salah's Egypt favourites to win AFCON, says El Hadji Diouf

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The 38-year-old hopes his home nation of Senegal can go all the way but admits the Pharaohs could have the edge

Former Liverpool attacker El Hadji Diouf has named Egypt as his favourites to lift the Africa Cup of Nations as the host nation will have bigger support than other sides and boast the attacking talents of Mohamed Salah.

The controversial forward had a career full of ups and downs, struggling with disciplinary issues while also being named Africa's Footballer of the Year in 2001 and 2002.

Despite the low points, Diouf lifted cups with Liverpool and Rangers, was part of the 2002 Senegal side that impressed in the World Cup and made it to the final of the AFCON in the same year.

As such, the 38-year-old knows what it takes to win and feels Salah's Pharaohs have the edge over his home country and other big names in this year's upcoming tournament.

“I would put Senegal at the top because it is my country and I hope they win the title but there are many other good teams – Egypt will be at the forefront with Morocco and Nigeria,” Diouf told Goal.

“Egypt is the strongest candidate for me because they will play in their own country with a lot of fans and they have very good players led by Mohamed Salah. He's a very decisive player and has a full country behind him.”

Senegal have a huge star of their own in Sadio Mane, however, and it was put to Diouf that some fans feel there might be an element of jealousy between the Liverpool duo as they continue to impress for club and country.

Diouf, however, sees no such issues between the Reds' attackers.

“I do not think there is jealousy or trouble between Mane and Salah,” he said. “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.”

Mane will be seen as Senegal's big hope in the 2019 AFCON but the country have had many good players in the past, yet have never lifted the cup. Asked how his nation can make the next step, Diouf pointed to having a strong structure and the right team mentality.

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“Winning a tournament needs a complete system,” he said. “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.”

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