Kouyate eyes AFCON title

Cheikhou Kouyate


  • Cheikhou Kouyate says Senegal want to win the AFCON for the first time in their history
  • Lions of Teranga completed unbeaten group stage by drawing 2-2 with Algeria on Monday
  • Captain Kouyate and company face Cameroon in the quarter-finals on Saturday evening

West Ham United’s Cheikhou Kouyate and Senegal are safely through to the quarter-finals of the 2017 CAF Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

The Lions of Teranga completed an unbeaten group phase by drawing 2-2 with Algeria in a thrilling game in Franceville on Monday evening, setting up a meeting with Cameroon.

With Senegal already sealing their place in the last eight courtesy of 2-0 victories over Tunisia and Zimbabwe, captain Kouyate was rested for the meeting with the Desert Foxes.

With former Hammer Mohamed Diame taking his place in the middle of the park, Senegal twice led, only to be pegged back by two goals scored by Leicester City striker Islam Slimani.

Aliou Cisse’s side will take on the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon in Franceville on Saturday 28 January, with the tie being screened live by British Eurosport at 7pm GMT.

Kouyate says Senegal are determined to win the continental title for the first time in their history, having been beaten by their next opponents in their only previous appearance in the final back in 2002.

“We’d been crying like children for ten years,” said the No8. “This year, we've decided to come here and show that Senegal has grown, that this generation wants to write the history of Senegalese football.

“The hardest bit is to come. The start was to try and get out of the group. We’re not going to stop now, and we’ll do everything to make the Senegalese people happy.”

Elsewhere, Andre Ayew’s Ghana are already guaranteed to join Senegal in the quarter-finals, having beaten Uganda – courtesy of the West Ham forward’s penalty – and Mali in their opening two Group D fixtures.

Incorrect reports suggested the No20 had contracted malaria ahead of the victory over Mali. While the Hammers star was ill, he has dismissed claims he is suffering from the disease.

"'I wasn't feeling well," he said. "I had some temperature and therefore had little training for two days but the medical team treated me well. I felt I could help and I gave it my all and I'm very happy we got the qualification.

"The sacrifices we are all making are paying off and make you know that hard work really pays off."

The Black Stars, managed by Avram Grant, need to avoid defeat against Egypt to top the group and set up a last-eight clash with either DR Congo, Morocco, Ivory Coast or Togo.

The 2017 AFCON final will be held in Libreville on Sunday 5 February.