DAKAR (Reuters) – Senegal’s primary objective at the World Cup is to make their people proud and “write our own story”, captain Cheikhou Kouyate told reporters as the squad began training in the beach resort of Saly-Portudal.
Senegal will make only their second World Cup appearance when they compete in Group H at next month’s finals in Russia against Poland, Japan and Colombia.
Their previous appearance in 2002 saw them beat holders France in the opening game and go onto to become only the second African team to reach the quarter-finals.
“The World Cup is a competition that takes place every four years and it is not given to everyone to take part,” Kouyate said.
“We have the chance now to participate and we will prepare well to please the Senegalese people. We want to write our own story.
“We are going to play match by match, but the most important thing is to be ready on the day of the game,” the West Ham United midfielder added.
Senegal’s preparations got off to a slow start with just seven players on hand for their first training session at the Diambars academy, some 80-kilometres from the capital Dakar, on Tuesday.
However, they expect a full squad on Thursday, save for Sadio Mane, who plays for Liverpool in the Champions League final against Real Madrid in Kiev on Saturday.
“It is our brother who plays and although there are supporters of Real Madrid in our squad, for this final everyone supports Liverpool because we want Sadio to win this trophy,” Kouyate added.
“We hope he will do it because it will push us to try and win the World Cup.”
(Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Christian Radnedge)