Senegal officials promise not to interfere with team during 2012 Afcon

Senegal minister of sports Abdoulaye Makhtar Diop has assured the public that his collaborators will not be interfering with the decisions or work of the national team coach Amara Traore during the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.

Diop made the announcement on Tuesday amid rumours that authorities would likely influence the choice of players or manipulate the outfit during the tournament, as they have done on other occasions.

The minister said he had given instructions to all officials not directly connected with the Teranga Lions to stay at a different hotel than the one the team will use in Bata, Equatorial Guinea.

“We don’t want intrusion of any kind this time,” Diop said in a statement. “We want the coach and his players to enjoy perfect calmness and concentration during the tournament. Nobody would be allowed to step in there to give instructions of any kind to the technical staff.”

He also called on the Senegalese delegation to keep good discipline in camp to avoid disorderliness that “led to Senegal’s repetitive failures in the past.”

Senegal are deemed as one of the favourites of the 2012 Afcon title alongside Cote D’Ivoire, Morocco and Ghana.

The Lions are carrying out preparations at home in Dakar and will play pre-tournament friendlies against Sudan and Kenya on Thursday and Saturday respectively.

Senegal are in Group A alongside co-hosts Equatorial Guinea, Zambia and Libya. The Teranga Lions will begin their campaign against Zambia on the tournament’s opening day, January 21.