By Matt Carter
Guinea had already overcome significant Ebola related adversity by simply making it to the 2015 AFCON, yet their odds-belittling exploits weren’t finished there as the Syli National navigated an arduous group to clinch an unexpected ticket into the last eight – albeit via implausible means.
Characterised by unity and togetherness with a smattering of genuine quality thrown in for good measure, Guinea’s campaign represented one of the tournament’s most endearing narratives. Not tasting victory might on the surface be judged as slightly disappointing, yet avoiding defeat in a group where many predicted they would be mere also-rans is an accomplishment that should not be undervalued.
At the forefront of Guinea’s group D escapades was diminutive skipper Ibrahima Traore who firmly established himself as one of the continent’s most offensive exuberant talent, whilst the successful reintroduction of the previously troublesome Kevin Constant was another overriding positive of Guinea’s time in Equatorial Guinea.
Coach Michel Dussuyer, who warrants immense credit for the manner in which he has instigated Guinea’s compelling journey, will now depart for pastures new. However, the influential coach encouragingly leaves behind a vibrant squad that boasts potential in abundance.
Having negotiated such significant trials and tribulation to manufacture a route into the last eight, the meek manner in which a clearly energy sapped Guinea surrendered to Ghana brought about a soured conclusion to the Syli National’s captivating campaign.
To add further fuel to the frustration of that mistake-littered demise, this was the fourth time since 2004 that Guinea have fallen at the quarter-final hurdle – a return which has alarmingly also seen them ship 13 goals.
The drawing of lots was an undeniably ungainly method of advancing to the last eight, but given the obstacles that Guinea had endured throughout their AFCON adventure previously their slice of fortune was more than deserved.
In regards to individual sites, few were crasser than Naby Yattara’s horrific challenge on Asamoah Gyan, which both ruled the Ghana skipper out of his side’s subsequent semi-final and influenced upon his disappointing showing in the final.