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Senegal still have point to prove - Diao

© Reuters 2002

By Alastair Himmer

OSAKA, Japan, June 20 (Reuters) - Senegal still feel they have a point to prove and are determined to create more history when they meet Turkey in their World Cup quarter-final on Saturday, midfielder Salif Diao warns.

Senegal have already left an indelible mark on the World Cup in their first trip to the finals but Diao insisted there was no question of them resting on their laurels as they aim to go further than any African country before them.

"In football you have to prove something every week. People forget very quickly," he told reporters on Thursday. "Look at Ronaldo. He was one of the best players in the world and when he was injured everyone forgot about him.

"We still have a bit to prove. We don't want to be sitting around moaning in two or four years time about missing our chance at the World Cup. "We are not just playing for Senegal. We are playing for Africa. People thought of African football 10 years ago and thought we didn't care. We want to show that it's more disciplined now."

A victory for Senegal would take them further in the World Cup than any African nation in its 72-year history. They have already matched Cameroon's achievement of 1990 when they lost to England 3-2 in the last eight in Italy.

Senegal confounded expectations by finishing runners-up in group A after stunning defending champions France with a deserved 1-0 victory in the opening match of the World Cup on May 31. They then beat Sweden 2-1 in extra time in the second round on Sunday, but Diao said they could not afford to take Turkey lightly after their 1-0 win over co-hosts Japan on Tuesday.

"We were so surprised by Turkey. They impressed us the way they played against Japan and we know we will have to be at 100 percent to beat them," said the 25-year-old, who has just signed a five-year deal with Liverpool.

"We are all a bit tired but I think our chances are fifty-fifty." Senegal manager Bruno Metsu cancelled a training session on Wednesday after several players complained of fatigue, but Diao said the prospect of a World Cup semi-final against either England or Brazil was the perfect tonic.

"It would be a dream to play England. Lots of Senegal players would love to play in England. But right now we are just thinking about one game at a time," he said.

Diao, who was sent off after scoring in the 1-1 draw with Denmark in group A and was suspended for the next two matches, said that the Senegal players are not surprised by their World Cup success. "I've heard people talk about how Senegal are a surprise but but that's just because most of us play in France and not the big European clubs," he said.

"But we love a challenge. We don't say anything, we just keep quiet but for us the challenge is to show that Senegal are a great team."

Reports provided by

Thursday, 27 June
Germany are cold and calculating, says Scolari
Wednesday, 26 June
Turkey dejected but happy to be in top four
Ronaldo fires Brazil into World Cup final
Tuesday, 25 June
South Korean dream ended by Germany
Brazil give no clues over Ronaldinho's replacement
Monday, 24 June
Ronaldo plays in practice match
Germany relish unforgettable moment in Seoul
Daredevil Edmilson will not change his style
Sunday, 23 June
Germany's Hamann back in training
Kahn can't wait to play South Korea this time
Saturday, 22 June
Metsu takes his hat off to Senegal heroes
We're as good as anybody, says Turkey match-winner
Friday, 21 June
England in despair as Brazil crush hopes
Beckenbauer says Germany were lucky to beat U.S.
Kahn and Ballack steer Germany into semis

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