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Hammers at the World Cup: Kouyate’s Senegal beats Poland 2-1 in opener

Cheik didn’t start, but is still at Senegal’s heart

Poland v Senegal: Group H - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

After Javier Chicharito Hernandez’s match winning assist in Mexico massive victory over Germany Sunday, the next West Ham player to have a shot at making a big impact this World Cup is of course Cheikhou Kouyate.

The Senegal captain though didn’t have much impact at all, but saw his country get a happy return to the highest world stage with a 2-1 victory over Poland on Tuesday. In a match of the final two teams to play their World Cup opener, Kouyate was placed on the bench by manager Aliou Cisse in this one. And it was a decision that turned out to be the right one for Senegal, with an own goal from Polish defender Thiago Cionek and a semi-controversial goal from M’Baye Niang too much for Robert Lewandowski’s side to overcome.

Still, Kouyate had to come on the field to make sure that the CAF side provide their continent with their first points at this World Cup. And the Hammers midfielder indeed did come on in the 84th minute, replacing Alfred N’Diaye.

Senegal will have a chance to clinch a Round of 16 berth in the next match against Japan, who won earlier Tuesday over Colombia by the same score 2-1, on Sunday.

He is Kouyate celebrating with Idrissa Gueye after another big moment in Senegal footballing history.

Poland v Senegal: Group H - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images