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Profiling the AFCON teams: Guinea

Guinea have featured in 11 AFCON finals since debut in 1970. (PHOTOS/AGENCIES)

Guinea will be featuring in only their 12th Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament and their first since 2015. They have never won the tournament with their best finish coming in 1976 where they finished second.

In the 2019 edition, Nigeria is in Group B alongside Nigeria, Madagascar and Burundi.

Guinea did not enter into qualification for the first three AFCON finals. Their first attempt came in 1963 but were disqualified for using Guinean officials in the second leg of their qualifier against Nigeria.

For the next two editions (1965 and 68), Guinea were eliminated in the qualifiers and hence had to wait for their debut for at least two more years.

It would eventually come in the 1970 edition in Sudan where they were eliminated at the Group stage after finishing third in Group B.

Guinea could not replicate their 1970 heroics that saw them make the finals’ tournament as they once again failed to make it through the qualifiers in 1972.

Their best finish at the finals would come in the next tournament in Ethiopia as they finished second. At the 1974 finals, the National Elephants finished top of Group A which featured the likes of Egypt, Uganda and Ethiopia. They went on to finish second behind Morocco in the final round Group.

Guinea finished second in the 1974 edition.

1978 was another disappointment for Guinea as they failed to make it to the final tournament.

In Nigeria 1980, the National Elephants returned to the AFCON tournament, once again failing to make it out of the Group after finishing bottom of group B, behind Algeria, Morocco and Ghana.

For the next six editions between 1982 and 1992, Guinea failed to make it through the qualifiers.

Guinea’s return to the finals came in Tunisia 94 but it was short lived as they finished bottom of Group D which had the likes of Ghana and Senegal and would not get a chance to make amends as they failed to qualify for South Africa 96.

In 1998, Guinea returned to the finals but once again couldn’t get past the group stages as they finished third in Group A behind Cameroon and hosts Burkina Faso.

For the 2000 edition, Guinea failed to qualify and they were then disqualified from qualification for the 2002 edition following a FIFA ban.

However, they returned stronger, reaching the next three AFCON tournaments between 2004 and 2008. In the three AFCONs, the National Elephants got out of the group but lost in their quarter final games.

Guinea who continue their inconsistent run as they failed to reach the 2010 edition, falling short in the qualifiers. This was the 6th time in their history that they had failed to negotiate through qualification.

2012 would be the next tournament Guinea featured in but their participation could not go beyond the group stages as they finished third in Group D. This was followed by failing to qualify for the 2013 edition.

In 2015, the National Elephants made their first quarter final appearance since 2008. After a tiebreaker with Mali, Guinea finished second in Group D and marched on to face Ghana in the quarters. It was a task that they would fail as they lost 0-3 to the Black Stars.

Coach

Paul Put 

Put is a 63 year old Belgian who has been the head coach of Guinea since March 2018.

Put became Guinea coach in 2018.

He was manager of Gambia between 2008 and 2011, before being appointed by Burkina Faso in March 2012.  Put had previously managed three Belgian club sides, before being banned for three-years by the Belgian Football Association for his alleged involvement in a match-fixing scandal.

He left his role in 2015 before becoming manager of Jordan that very year. Put would resign as Jordan head coach later that year and in October 2016, he was announced as USM Alger.

In November 2017, Put was named as head coach of Kenya before resigning in February 2018.

He then became head coach of Chinese club Xinjiang Tianshan, signing a three year deal. In March 20018, he was appointed as Guinea head coach, a role he has held up to today.

Star Player

Naby Keita

Keita is a 24 year old midfielder who plays for Premier League side Liverpool FC.

Keita started out at Horoya where he played throughout his early years. He has gone on to feature for four clubs including Istres, RB Salzburg, RB Leipzig and Liverpool FC.

Keita has played 207 senior games for his four clubs, scoring 44 goals. For Guinea, he has managed 31 caps, scoring 5 goals.

Keita (15) has scored 5 goals for Guinea since debut.

He was injured towards the close of the 2018/19 season and Guinea are understood to be working against the clock to have their captain fit for the first game.

Projection: Second Round

Guinea Fixtures at AFCON 2019

-Guinea vs Madagascar, 22nd June

-Guinea vs Nigeria, 27th June

-Burundi vs Guinea, 30th June

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