Pogba’s brother Florentin and Zayatte make case for Guinea defence
Guinea are rank tournament outsiders at 40/1 with Coral to win the Africa Cup of Nations, but can a famous football name and an English league stalwart make things difficult for Group D big boys like Cameroon and the Ivory Coast?
It is not a likely outcome, as the National Elephants (not to be confused with Ivorians, who share the second part of Guinea’s nickname) are 10/1 outsiders to top their pool in Equatorial Guinea. They are not without talent or pedigree, however.
Paul Pogba was only recently succeeded by Poland poacher Arkadiusz Milik as European football’s ‘Golden Boy’ award winner. The France, Juventus and former Manchester United midfielder has a brother, Florentin, who will line up at left back for Guinea.
Also in the National Elephants’ rearguard is former Hull City and current Sheffield Wednesday defender Kamil Zayatte, who has always posed problems at set pieces. He captains Guinea, and all his experience will be essential to keep forwards like Wilfried Bony at bay in group stage games.
In front of this backline is a decent-looking midfield pairing of ex-AC Milan left-footer Kevin Constant and Red Ball Salzburg teenage talent Naby Keita. Their engine room presence is another key area if these Elephants want to stifle Yaya Toure and company, who are their Ivory Coast counterparts, or Cameroon captain Stephane Mbia.
The front four of Guinea also looks pretty good with Seydouba Soumah starring in qualification playing off the front. Currently on the books at Slovan Bratislava, he scored five times en route to the tournament finals.
Flanked by the powerful Ibrahima Traore (Borussia Monchengladbach) and bright Bastia light Francois Kamano, Soumah should be able to keep his fine international form going.
Leading the line will be either Lyon’s reserve frontman Mohamed Yattara or Zulte Waregem striker Idrissa Sylla, who got three between them in qualifying.
Punters should not rule out these National Elephants, as the spine of their side is decent, supplemented by worthy wide players and there is the physicality to ruffle a few feathers too. It’s a big ask, but Guinea can raise their game and ensure there’s no plain sailing for the more established international forces of African football.