The 25-year-old Coundoul made his debut for Senegal against Mali in a friendly game in France two months and only learned of his call-up for the African finals when he read about it in a newspaper.
He arrived Dec. 31 in Dakar, where his parents reside, and was the first player to show up at the Lions of Teranga training camp, working on his own with goalkeeper coach Mandiaty Fall for two days. Senegal opens against Tunisia on Jan. 23.
"It's a dream of all Senegalese players to take part in the African Nations Cup," Coundoul told the Senegalese newspaper Le Quotidien.
"Up until now, I've been in front of my television watching the African Nations Cup. Now, I'll be in the heart of the event."
He was born in Dakar and came into the United States in 1997. He lived in the Bronx with his three older brothers, Amadou, Aly and Abe Coundoul and attended New York high school power Martin Luther King Jr. High School.
After attending Albany University, Coundoul joined the Rapids in 2005. He played his first MLS game in 2006 and took over as the starter in 2007 following the departure of Joe Cannon to Los Angeles. Coundoul played all but 32 minutes for the Rapids in 2007 and finished third in Major League Soccer with a goals against average of 1.08.
Coundoul's former Colorado teammate, Alain Nkong, who now plays for 2007 Mexican Apertura champion, is on Cameroon's short list for the 2008 African Nations Cup.
Another ex-Rapid, Junior Agogo, who now plays for English third-level club Nottingham Forest, will represent Ghana.