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Cheikhou Kouyate proud to lead Senegal to Russia 2018 World Cup

7:38 PM GMT+4 20/02/2018
Senegal captain Cheikhou Kouyate after a match against South Africa
Since their debut appearance at Korea/Japan 2002, the Teranga Lions will return to the global fiesta in Russia later this year

Senegal captain Cheikhou Kouyate is ready to lead the west African country to their second World Cup appearance in Russia later this year.

Aliou Cisse's men returned to the quadrennial event after a 16-year absence and will be aiming to better their record of a quarter-final exit when the tournament begins in June.

Following their pairing with Poland, Colombia and Japan in Group H, Kouyate expects a tough contest in Russia but reiterated the team’s commitment to making the country proud.

“I’m very proud because 15 million people in Senegal are behind us. I am the captain and my people are behind us, so I need to lead my team," Kouyate told club website.

“It won’t be easy, though, as this is a World Cup and every game is hard. Every game is a final and we are going there to give our best, because all of Senegal are proud of the team. Everybody in the country loves football.

“This will be my first World Cup, and the same for my teammates, but first I have to think about the end of the Premier League season and saving West Ham, and only then can I start to think about the World Cup.”

Senegal who finished at the summit of their qualification group - ahead of South Africa, Burkina Faso and Cape Verde, will lock horns with Poland for their Group H opener at the Otkritie Arena on June 19.