FIFA World Cup 2018 Matchday One: Which Hammers Are In Action, When And Where?
With West Ham United loanee from Inter Milan Joao Mario kicking off his 2018 FIFA World Cup campaign with Portugal against Spain last night in Russia, today, we give you the lowdown on which Hammers stars are in action during the first round of group stages matches, when and where.
Cheikhou Kouyate (Senegal)
Midfielder and captain of his national side Cheikhou Kouyate is preparing to lead the Lions of Teranga into their first FIFA World Cup since the famous tournament of 2002 in Japan and South Korea.
That year, the African country sent shockwaves throughout the footballing world by reaching the quarter-finals, only to be knocked out by Turkey, failing to qualify for the three following competitions.
While none of the current crop of Senegalese stars plied their trade in the famous team of 2002, they will still fancy their chances of causing a few upsets, having enjoyed a particularly strong qualifying campaign.
Aliou Cisse’s men find themselves in Group H, where apart from Pot 1’s Poland, there is little to choose between the other teams, which include Columbia and Japan.
In terms of Matchday One, the Senegalese will have to wait until Tuesday 19 June when they go head-to-head with group favourites the Polish at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium with kick-off at 4 PM BST live on ITV1, ex-West Ham striker Diafra Sakho will also turn out with his former teammate at the tournament.
Javier Hernandez (Mexico)
In the second to last group in Russia, Group F, is Mexico and another Irons star who will be one of the more senior figures in his International set-up, Javier Hernandez of Mexico.
In the last year, Chicharito has become the Mexicans’ all-time leading goalscorer and reached the prestigious 100-cap mark, although there have been questions marks over whether he will be a regular fixture in the team at the tournament.
He netted eight Premier League goals in an injury and poor form–ravaged campaign in Claret & Blue last term, but nevertheless, at the age of 30, was still one of the first names in the squad to go to his third World Cup finals.
The best finish that Juan Carlos Osorio’s side have ever recorded in football’s premier tournament is the last eight, achieved when they were hosts in both 1970 and 1986, making it to the round of 16 in the last six finals on the bounce.
“The Little Pea” and his teammates will be looking to curve the hoodoo by first, qualifying for the knockouts in a strong group that also contains defending world champions Germany, their fellow Europeans Sweden and the outsiders from Asia South Korea.
First up is the toughest of the lot in the form of an encounter with the Germans tomorrow afternoon (Sunday 17 June 2018), kick-off is at 4 PM BST in the Luzhniki Stadium in the capital of Moscow, and for members of the Claret & Blue Army watching to watch at home in the UK, the encounter is being broadcasted live on BBC One.
Stay across all of our platforms over the coming weeks, including our website and our Twitter account @WestHamMatters_ to find out how West Ham United’s three FIFA World Cup 2018 representatives fare, can Mario and Portugal make it back-to-back major tournaments, and can Hernandez and Mexico and Kouyate and Senegal cause a shock in Russia?