Diouf steals limelight as Senegal, Ghana draw

Senegal striker El-Hadji Diouf impressed a host of Premiership managers and scouts as his predatory strike earned Senegal a 1-1 draw against Ghana in Tuesday’s friendly international in London.

Birmingham manager Steve Bruce, West Ham boss Alan Curbishley and several representatives from other English clubs were in the crowd at Millwall’s New Den to watch unsettled Bolton striker Diouf and Fulham midfielder Papa Bouba Diop.

It was Diouf who stole the show just a day after making it clear he is unhappy at Bolton as the Senegal captain’s second-half strike cancelled out Gyan Asamoah’s opener.

Diouf’s public demand for Sammy Lee to sign at least five players capable of making Bolton into contenders for a Champions League place could well herald the start of an attempt to leave the Reebok Stadium.

And if Bruce, Curbishley or any other prospective employer was weighing up a bid for Diouf, his influential display here may well have persuaded them to take the plunge.

Bouba Diop’s three-year spell at Fulham is also likely to end before the transfer window closes on August 31 after the Senegal midfielder admitted Cottagers manager Lawrie Sanchez had told him he could leave.

The 29-year-old has lost his place to Steven Davis but he is a formidable presence and his typically bone-shaking tackles underlined why Portsmouth’s Harry Redknapp is among several managers preparing a four million pounds bid.

While Diouf may not be happy at Bolton, Senegal coach Henri Kasperczak has no doubts about his commitment to the Lions of Teranga and handed him the captain’s armband.

One fine individual effort midway through the first half showed the danger Diouf can pose. Taking possession wide on the right he embarked on a jinking run and shot that nearly caught out Ghana keeper Richard Kingson.

Ghana were playing their first match since March’s defeat against Brazil, but there were few signs of rustiness. Haminu Draman was close to breaking the deadlock with a close-range effort, only for Tony Sylva’s sprawling save to keep him out.

Just four days after their blunder cost Fulham a point in a Premiership match against Middlesbrough, referee Andy D’Urso and linesman Ian Gosling were reunited at the New Den.

Neither official spotted that David Healy’s last-minute shot had crossed the line, with Gosling dropped for this coming weekend’s matches in the English top-flight as a result. Fortunately his eyesight seemed to have improved here and there was no repeat of that error.

Ghana coach Claude Le Roy was without injured captain Stephen Appiah, another player believed to interest Curbishley, but he was still able to field a strong side including Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien and Portsmouth’s Sulley Muntari.

It was Muntari who provided the decisive pass as Ghana took the lead on the stroke of half-time. His perfectly weighted ball sent Asamoah clear and the Udinese forward planted a low shot past Sylva at his near post.

Ghana gave a debut to Andre Ayew, son of Black Stars legend Abedi ”Pele” Ayew, in the closing stages.

But the last word went to Diouf. Babacar Gueye’s 74th-minute strike cannoned into Diouf and he managed to control before calmly slotting home. — Sapa-AFP

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Steve Griffiths
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