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AFCON 2023: Two Guinea countries, Equitorial Guinea and Guinea on path of history

Posted : 28 January 2024

It will surely be an interesting match to watch as the surprise leaders of Group A, the National Thunders of Equatorial Guinea, face off with the Syli Nationals of Guinea at Stade Olympique Alassane Ouattara in Abidjan.

The winner of this match will progress to the last eight, where they are expected to face either the seven-time champions Egypt or two-time winners Congo DR on February 2 at the same venue.

The National Thunders of Equatorial Guinea have been emphatic in victory in the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2023 and have spared no country, except playing to a 1-1 draw against the three-time AFCON winners, the Super Eagles of Nigeria, in their opening match.

The rest of the matches for the National Thunders have been thunderous and emphatic, scoring four goals in each fixture. They had a 4-2 victory over Guinea Bissau, while they also dismantled and humbled the hosts 4-0 right in front of their home fans, which many have tagged as total disrespect.

The 2023 AFCON has provided some shocking results, of which the match between the National Thunders of Equatorial Guinea and the Elephants of Cote D'Ivoire will go down as the most shocking result. With such an unusual nine-goal lead, the National Thunders lead the pack in Group A.

With those nine goals in the group stages, Juan Micha's side posted only two goals less than they managed in their first three tournaments combined (11 goals in 15 games in 2012, 2015, and 2021).

Equatorial Guinea has now reached the knockout stage in each of the last four AFCON competitions they have featured in (2012, 2015, 2021, and 2023) and is the only nation to have played and reached the knockouts in each of their AFCON appearances since the group stage was introduced back in 1963.

For the Syli Nationals of Guinea, they were bested by the reigning AFCON Champions 2-0 but managed to secure a 1-0 win against Gambia and a 1-1 draw with Cameroon, which eventually earned them a spot in the round of 16 as one of the top four best-ranked third-placed teams in the competition.

The National Elephants have now scored just four goals in their last eight Africa Cup of Nations matches and never scored more than a single goal in any of the matches during that period.

This will mark the first time that Guinea faces this opponent, and it could turn out to be a titanic first meeting between two sides that are separated by just eight places in the FIFA world rankings, with Guinea currently ranked 80th and Equatorial Guinea placed 88th.

While the rankings may be in favor of Kaba Diawara's side, history is not, as they have suffered defeat in their last six AFCON knockout games and failed to score in the last four, including their round of 16 clashes in 2019 (3-0 against Algeria) and 2021 (1-0 against Gambia).

Based on form in the competition, The National Elephants are the clear underdogs heading into this one, and while they do have more AFCON experience than their opponents, it will not count for much here.

Despite having almost similar names, this match will be the first-ever AFCON meeting between Equatorial Guinea and Guinea. It will be the third time this tournament that Equatorial Guinea has faced a nation for the first time at AFCON; previously, they drew 1-1 with Nigeria and won 4-2 vs Guinea-Bissau.

For the fourth time this century, Guinea’s first AFCON match against an opponent has been in the knockout stages – they have lost each of the previous three (2-1 vs Mali in 2004, 5-0 vs Ivory Coast in 2008, and 1-0 vs Gambia in 2021).

The bookies cannot be wrong as the National Thunders going into this match have the upper hand.



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