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Syli National of Guinea to fight for recognition at AFCON 2024

Posted : 04 January 2024

The Syli National of Guinea will want to fight for recognition at the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) after failing to progress past the quarter-finals stage in the last four appearances (2004, 2006, 2008, and 2015).

The team earlier progressed to play in the AFCON finals in 1976, where they eventually became the runners-up. However, they have not achieved much success afterward, and their best finish in AFCON appearances remains the 48-year-old feat.

Another striking fact is that the Syli National of Guinea has yet to qualify for the FIFA World Cup finals despite many attempts.

The team, however, reached the quarter-finals in four recent tournaments (2004, 2006, 2008, and 2015).

The Syli National of Guinea had its first taste of international football in 1963 in the qualification round for the 1963 edition of AFCON in Ghana. Unfortunately, they were later disqualified for using Guinean officials in the second leg, and Nigeria went through to the finals in their place.

The team returned in 1965 for another AFCON qualifier in Tunisia and was placed in Group A with Senegal and Mali. However, Senegal's win over Mali allowed them to qualify instead of Guinea.

In the 1976 African Cup of Nations, Guinea finished second to Morocco, only missing out on the championship by a point.

Trouble brewed in 2001 when the Guineans incurred the wrath of FIFA, earning them expulsion from the qualification process of the 2002 World Cup and 2002 African Cup of Nations due to government interference in football activities in the country.

They were later pardoned by FIFA and subsequently returned to international action in September 2002 after a two-year ban from FIFA-organized competitions.

At the 2004 African Cup of Nations, Guinea reached the quarter-finals but ultimately lost 2–1 to Mali, conceding the winning goal in the last minute of the match.

On the twilight of 2005, FIFA moved the Syli National of Guinea from their home base due to an Ebola outbreak in the country. On 4 January 2016, CAF lifted the ban on Guinea playing their home internationals in Guinea after it was declared Ebola-free by the U.N. World Health Organization in December 2015.

In the following edition in 2006, Guinea reached the quarter-final stage of the tournament again, taking a lead against West African neighbor Senegal before losing 3–2.

Another follow-up in 2008 saw Guinea reach yet another quarter-final of the Africa Cup of Nations for a third successive tournament, only to suffer a 5–0 defeat against Côte d'Ivoire.

In the 2012 AFCON, Guinea beat Botswana 6–1 in the group stage, becoming the first side to score six goals in an Africa Cup of Nations game since Côte d'Ivoire in 1970. However, they exited the tournament at the group stage after a draw against the Black Stars of Ghana.

Guinea had to wait for the last day of qualifiers to secure their ticket to Cote d'Ivoire, finishing second behind Egypt. Despite being drawn in a tough group consisting of reigning champions Senegal, former champions Cameroon, as well as The Gambia, the Guineans remain ambitious about doing well and advancing beyond the group stages despite facing tough opposition.

Mohamed Bayo, Aguibou Camara, Serhou Guirassy are some of the key players that Coach Kaba Diawara will be looking to for individual brilliance when Guinea kicks off their TotalEnergies AFCON campaign against Cameroon on Monday, 15 January.

There will be a lot of drama in the Group C pairing, as supposedly weaker teams like Guinea and The Gambia battle for scraps against two heavyweights in the group, Senegal and Cameroon. The results between Cameroon and Senegal will go a long way in shaping the results from the group and determining who will eventually make it to the knockout stage.

Coach Morlaye Cisse of the Syli National of Guinea orchestrated a remarkable recovery during the last AFCON 2024 qualification match, guiding Guinea to a convincing 3-1 victory over Congo Brazzaville in a riveting Group A encounter held in Rabat.

Cisse emphasized that the team's loss to Morocco in their opening match served as a pivotal turning point, galvanizing his players to redouble their efforts and secure a triumph against Congo.

"We were determined to showcase our true capabilities. The frustration of the defeat against Morocco fueled a burning desire within the team. In a way, I believe it played a significant role in motivating our players," he revealed.

Buoyed by a squad boasting 14 professional players, Cisse expressed his satisfaction with the newfound drive within the team.

"Hope has been restored among our ranks, and we are fully cognizant that our journey is far from over. Our primary objective remains unfulfilled, and we will tenaciously battle forward, well aware of the formidable challenge that awaits us," added the 39-year-old coach.

The Syli National, however, secured the second slot in Group A to qualify.

For this AFCON 2024, Guinea's resurgence epitomizes their indomitable spirit and unwavering determination as they strive to defy the odds and make an indelible mark in the tournament. Coach Kaba Diawara's unwavering faith in his talented squad continues to propel them forward on their quest for success.

While formidable challenges lie ahead, Guinea's recent triumph has breathed new life into the team. Buoyed by their resurgent form, they are prepared to face the next hurdle head-on, ready to seize the opportunity and progress further in the competition.

Player to watch: Serhou Guirassy

Serhou Guirassy is a goal poacher of note and certainly one to look to when in search of goals. He has 19 goals from 16 matches with VfB Stuttgart in Germany. Despite playing his very first TotalEnergies AFCON at 27-years, Guirassy is high in confidence and will be looking to be a serious threat to defenders in Cote d'Ivoire.

One of his key attributes is his unique ability of finishing with both feet, which will be a great asset against some of the continent's best defenders and goalkeepers.

The coach: Kaba Diawara

Appointed as head coach of the team in 2021, Kaba Diawara will be guiding Guinea for the second consecutive TotalEnergies AFCON.

Diawara is a student of the game, and this was evident during his time as an analyst for major TV channels dissecting the game. Well known for his great motivation and ability to calm his players, Diawara is a fan of the 4-3-3 formation and will be hoping his players adapt and master the system well against some of the best players next month.



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