Guinea-Bissau qualified from a pretty mediocre group with Namibia, Zambia and Mozambique. It was probably one of the more weaker groups in qualifying, if – given how Zambia went on to perform – not the weakest.
Whatever the case, they are at their second consecutive Africa Cup of Nations. Stability has been the key over the last years as Guinea-Bissau have kept the same coach and the key players in the team are still around and performing well.
Similar to the last time, the Guinea-Bissau football federation has spent some time since qualifying to look for players with a link to the country. A couple of those feature in the squad and may add quality but run the risk of disrupting what was a solid team.
Of course, it was not a problem in the last edition.where Guinea-Bissau arrived as probably the worst team at the tournament but left with their heads held high, going into the final round of group fixtures still with a chance to qualify. They may want to go one better this time and win a game.
Guinea-Bissau still play in the 4-5-1 underdog formation. The most common backline during qualification was that of Nadjack, Juary, Bacar Balde while Rudinison Silva and Edigeison Almeida were rotated in one of the central defence positions.
Pele and Maconi Malde were familiar as a midfield pairing. The attacking players have full freedom to express themselves when going forward and much of the play will go through their attacking midfielder Zezinho though the goalscoring responsibility will fall on Frederic Mendy.
Continuity – The same coach, the same set of key players and the same system means Guinea Bissau have built on the chemistry that got them to the last Cup of Nations. The attack has stayed the same since the last AFCON in terms of personnel with Zezinho, Piquieti, Toni Silva and Frederic Mendy the first choices. This can only be a strength rather than a weakness.
The Achilles’ Heel
Leaky defence – The only clean sheets the defence kept during qualifying came against a toothless Namibia attack. In the other four games they conceded a total of seven goals. They’ll need to tighten that back door to overcome teams like Cameroon and Ghana.
He is one of the team’s more experienced players, but he’s just not that. You have to be a decent player with a name like Zezinho. The 25-year-old is the creative fulcrum of his side and the onus will be on him once again to conjure magic to unleash Frederic Mendy and others around him.
The Hipster’s Choice
Toni Silva is the wild child of Guinea-Bissau. Stereotypical frustrating winger with an eye for goal. Spent time at Chelsea and Liverpool before dropping down to Barnsley, then CSKA Sofia in Bulgaria, Levadiakos in Greece, Mamelodi Sundowns in South Africa and now Al Ittihad in Egypt.
He left Mamelodi Sundowns in controversial circumstances, writing a lengthy open letter to the coach stating: “As you can see I don’t give a shit about you, that’s why I want the world to know.”
The 70-year-old Baciro Candewants his side to aim higher this time, and by that he doesn’t mean win a game but a place in the knockout rounds. He has managed Guinea-Bissau for a total of 12 years in two different stints.
Not enough quality in their ranks to make it into the knockout stages.