Stoke City: Stars flee from Senegal riot (+VIDEO)
by Martin Spinks
STOKE midfielder Salif Diao says the club's Senegal stars are ready to take their frustration out on Spurs after their World Cup dream ended in a riot.
FLASHPOINT: A guard confronts Senegal fans during Saturday's rioting. Right: A burned out truck next to the ransacked Senegal Football Federation headquarters.
This picture taken on October 12, 2008 shows people sitting in front of damaged entrance to Senegalese Football Federation on October 12, 2008. Frustrated fans of Senegalese national football team ravaged the building following a 2010 World Cup-African Nations Cup Group 6 qualifying match against Gambia on October 11. The match ended in a draw 1-1. AFP PHOTO / GEORGES GOBET (Photo credit should read GEORGES GOBET/AFP/Getty Images) ------ sport out kw use half or full size pls
Diao, Abdoulaye Faye and Ibrahima Sonko were caught up in crowd trouble in the Senegal capital Dakar after their side's 1-1 draw with Gambia.
The result means they and Stoke's fourth Senegal player, Amdy Faye, will not get to play in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa nor the African Cup of Nations of the same year.
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Senegal's failure to qualify sparked fury among their supporters. They threw stones and metal bars on to the pitch after Saturday's match and also tore down fencing and billboards.
They then rioted in the streets, setting up burning barricades before clashing with riot police, who charged them with batons and fired tear gas.
Speaking on his return from Africa, Diao said: "The frustration was too much to handle for a lot of them.
"There are always some trouble makers and, after the game, some of them tried to destroy the stadium. They also burned tyres on the main road and the football federation headquarters. They weren't happy.
"We had to stay in the changing rooms from 6pm until 10pm before we could come out of the stadium in undercover cars to get back to our hotel.
"I've not experienced that before, but I know there were similar problems two years ago when we missed qualifying for the last World Cup.
"Then, they stoned the bus while the players were on it. This time no one wanted to take a chance on the bus so we had to sit in the changing rooms.
"Sometimes people don't see just how big football is for these African countries.
"It is not just about winning a football match, you are also fixing big social issues. If it doesn't work then there is trouble."
Diao, aged 31, is bitterly disappointed he has missed probably his last chance to play in another World Cup.
He shone in the 2002 tournament, helping his country reach the quarter-finals – and beat then holders France in the opening match.
He said: "I have been thinking I need to keep playing for two more years because I want to play in one more World Cup, but now it is all over.
"Now we need to focus on the club. There won't be international games with Senegal, so we have to concentrate all our energy on Stoke City."
All of City's Senegal internationals could play against bottom-of-the-table Spurs on Sunday as City attempt to climb out of the Premier League relegation zone.
Diao has now recovered from the groin strain which ruled him out of City's last game, at Portsmouth, and is hoping for a recall. He said: "It will be a very tough game because Spurs are a good team. But it is up to us to start picking up points at home, starting with this game."
LIAM Lawrence has been boosted by the news that a second scan on his injured ankle has not revealed any hidden damage.
But he remains doubtful for Sunday's Premier League visit of Tottenham after only just beginning light jogging.