Aliou Cisse will join the select band of those who played for and coached their country at the World Cup when Senegal tackle Poland in the Group H opener in Moscow.

Brazilian Mario Zagallo and German Franz Beckenbauer stand out among those who have achieved the feat as they won the tournament as players and coaches.

The 42-year-old Cisse captained the ‘Teranga Lions’ to the 2002 quarter-finals, where they lost to an extra-time ‘golden goal’ against Turkey.

Senegal had gone to co-hosts South Korea as no-hopers, but stunned reigning champions France in the opening match, then held Denmark and Uruguay and beat Sweden to reach the last-eight.

Tasked with securing qualification for Russia, Cisse succeeded by overcoming Madagascar over two legs and winning a group including Burkina Faso, Cape Verde and South Africa.

The early mini-league setback of a loss in South Africa was erased when the Ghanaian referee was found guilty of match manipulation and Senegal won the replay.

While the Senegalese sports minister talked of reaching the 2018 semi-finals after the draw, many pundits believe Cisse will do well to match the last-eight finish of 16 years ago.

There are doubts about his ability to get the best out of the team as an attacking force, despite a powerful strike force spearheaded by Liverpool star Sadio Mane.

Critics point to a disappointing showing at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon, where the ‘Lions’ were eliminated by eventual champions Cameroon after a quarter-final penalty shootout.

Cisse knows all about shootout agony, having missed from the spot when Senegal were beaten by Cameroon in the 2002 Cup of Nations final in Mali.

Operating as a defensive midfielder, he played for five French clubs and then English Premier League outfits Birmingham City and Portsmouth.

Never one to hold back a tackle, the Senegalese hard man was sent off in his Birmingham debut and shown 10 yellow cards during the first five months with the club.