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Monday, 8 April, 2002, 12:21 GMT 13:21 UK
Divided loyalties for Fadiga
Khalilou Fadiga
Fadiga says he feels at home on the streets of Paris

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Khalilou Fadiga will be sure to start for Senegal in the opening match of the World Cup finals against defending champions France.

And it is a match with special significance for the Senegalese striker.

He left his native country when he was six years old and now feels very much at home in France.

Open Quote
I share both cultures but I have a lot of family over in Senegal and my colour is Senegalese
Close Quote
Khalilou Fadiga

"The truth is that I know the streets of Paris better then the streets of Dakar but, if I play in the World Cup finals against France, I've got to try to my best to beat them," he said.

Fadiga's parents are French and his wife is from Belgium, so the Auxerre striker could have played international football for both nations.

Indeed, he played for Mechelen and Lommelse in the Belgium league and did so well that the national coach tried to recruit him to play for Belgium.

Fadiga's loyalties, however, were always with the Lions.

"I feel Senegalese. When I was home, everybody would speak our language, we listened to Senegalese radio and music, we ate Senegalese food.

"I share both cultures but I have a lot of family over in Senegal and my colour is Senegalese."

But the striker admits that it will be strange playing against the French in Korea and Japan because he does feel such an affinity for France.

Open Quote
When we meet on 31 May, France are going to see what Senegal are made of
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Khalilou Fadiga

However, the 27-year-old is not the only player who will feel torn when Senegal meet France on 31 May.

Patrick Viera was 16 when he left Senegal for France and started playing for the French national team.

He will be playing against the country where he spent his childhood.

France versus Senegal is top billing not least because it is the opening match of the tournament but it is a game which pitches colonial masters against servants.

France have played former colonies Morocco and Algeria before but never the Lions. Senegal and Fadiga in particular are keen to show that they are world class.

"It's better that we haven't played them yet because when we meet on the 31 May, they are going to see what Senegal are made of," Fadiga said.

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GROUP A
  P GD PTS
DENMARK 3 +3 7
SENEGAL 3 +1 5
URUGUAY 3 -1 2
FRANCE 3 -3 1

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