Senegal coach Cisse: ‘Diame had years left’

Senegal coach Aliou Cisse has expressed his surprise at Mohamed Diame’s retirement from international football at the age of 29.

Diame, who plays his club football in England for Newcastle, announced his decision earlier this month, saying he believes he is no longer among the best Senegalese players.

But Cisse, who had mainly used Diame as a substitute since he took charge of Senegal in March 2015, disagrees with his decision.

“I’m completely surprised because everybody knows I have a good relationship with Diame,” Cisse told BBC Sport.

“Clearly, it’s a personal decision but one I disagree with because he’s still young – a good player and his country needs him.

“He could still give so much as he had a lot of years left in him. But he’s taken his decision and I have to respect that.”

Diame appeared 36 times for the Teranga Lions and played at the 2012 Olympics.

Meanwhile, Cisse has refused to be drawn on whether Senegal will seek a replay after Fifa banned Ghanaian referee Joseph Lamptey for life for ‘match manipulation’ in their World Cup qualifier.

The ban results from a penalty he awarded to South Africa in a 2-1 win over the Teranga Lions in a 2018 World Cup qualifier in November.

Lamptey penalised Kalidou Koulibaly for handball, but replays showed the ball hit his knee.

Cisse told BBC Sport: “The referee may have been punished but this [to ask for a replay or not] is a decision for the Senegalese football federation president Augustin Senghor.

“I don’t want to speak about this sensitive matter.”

Favourites Senegal are third in group D behind Burkina Faso and South Africa in the battle for the sole ticket to Russia.