When Gordon Bradley became coach of the Washington Diplomats last October he said he wanted at least five new players in uniform for the 1978 season.

He has three of those players under contract. Two more are in Washington ready to sign, and more are on the way.

The new Dips are Mike Dillon - purchased from The Cosmos - Paul Cannell, the team's leading scorer in 1976 when he was on loan from the English League, and Scottish defender Tommy O'Hara.

In addition, Bradley, who has been globe-trotting for the past two months, has brought in two players from South Africa for tryouts.

Kenneth Mokoja and Andries Maseko, both 23, arrived in Washington yesterday and will spend the next several weeks training with the Dips.

South Africa has three national squads, a white team, a black team and; recently, an integrated team. Mokoja and Maseko played for the integrated team and have been compared favorably with Jomo Sono of The Cosmos. Sono, also South African, was signed by Bradley with the intention of having him as a successor to Pele.

Both players are expected to make the squad, assuming visas and other technicalities can be solved.

Tomorrow, four players from Antigua, whose government is represented by Dips' President Steve Danzansky, will arrive in Washington for tryouts. It is less likely that any of these players will be signed.

The most significant signee thus far is Cannell. The flamboyant 24-year-old was easily the most popular man on the club with the fans two years ago when he was on loan from Newcastle United.

He scored 13 goals and added two assists in leading them into the playoffs. It was the only playoff appearance in the Dips' four-year existence.

He was sorely missed by the anemic 10-16 Dips last season as the club constantly failed to finish its plays around the net.

"There's no question that Paul is an excellent scorer," Bradley said after purchasing his contract, something the club attempted unsuccessfully last year."He has great jumping ability and that makes him a constant threat around the goal."

Defenders Dillon, 25, and O'Hara, 24, have had experience at midfield and will be looked upon by Bradley as playmakers.

"It takes 11 men to score goals, not just forwards," Bradley said. "The forwards may actually put the ball in the net but they have to have help from the backlines to get the ball into position to put it there."

The presence of Cannell and the two South Africans on the front line will probably mean that Alan Green, the club's leading scorer in 1977, will not return.

Green was on loan from Coventry in the English League last season. Attempts to purchase his contract during the offseason have been unsuccessful. With the signing of Cannell, the Dips are less willing now to pay the near quarter-million dollar purchase price Coventry has demanded.