Kouyate: World Cup debut will be a dream fulfilled

Cheikhou Kouyate

Cheikhou Kouyate says he will be fulfilling a childhood dream when he leads Senegal out for their World Cup opener against Poland later on Tuesday.

The 28-year-old has the honour of skippering Senegal at their first World Cup finals appearance since 2002, when the Lions of Teranga famously defeated defending champions France before going on to reach the quarter finals.

This time around, Poland, Japan and Colombia offer Senegal’s group stage opposition and Kouyate believes his team are prepared for the challenge.

“One of the dreams we had as kids is coming true [at this World Cup], so we will have to enjoy it and give joy to the Senegalese people as well,” the Hammers No8 said.

“We’ve worked very hard for the last two to three weeks to prepare for the tournament. The last couple of weeks have been particularly intense, our coach has made us work very, very hard! The team is ready, we are fully prepared to play this game against Poland.

“We have to play as usual and we have to enjoy it. The team and myself are fully ready because this is a World Cup. We can’t fall asleep.

“Yes, a number of African teams have lost their opening matches, but this doesn’t mean there is more pressure on us. This is the Senegalese team, we have done a lot of work in the last few weeks and today is going to be the most important game for us. It is going to be the first final.”