14 May 2019 08:52
Belgium-born Paul Put oversaw Burkina Faso qualify for their first ever Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) final in 2013, losing 1-0 to Nigeria’s Super Eagles with a Sunday Mba goal 40 minutes into the game in Johannesburg.
Six years on, and with his new employers Guinea pooled with Nigeria in Group B, Put who returned to West Africa after a brief stint with Kenya’s Harambee Stars and USM Alger in Algeria, believes he can push the Syli Nationale into similar territory.
“I believe in our chances, but we need to work very hard for it. It will not be easy for us,” Put said of his side’s chances.
Apart from Nigeria, Put’s men will face off with newcomers Madagascar and Burundi in Group B and the tactician has warned as much as it looks easy, they will not find a walk in the park against any opponent from this pool.
“We have Nigeria, a strong opponent and I have good memories against them from 2013 with Burkina Faso. I hope I can make the same experience with Guinea this time round,” stated Put.
“Madagascar and Burundi are seen as outsiders but it is never easy playing against outsiders. It will be very difficult to play against them but I hope we can get out of this group. It is not easy and maybe we will have to play until the last day of the group,” he added.
Guinea will be making their 12th appearance at the AFCON, with their best showing having been in 1976 when they reached the final and lost to Morocco by a point in the round robin format that also included Nigeria and Egypt.
They did not qualify for the 2017 event that was held in Gabon but reached the 2015 quarter finals where they lost 3-0 to Ghana.
On the road to Egypt, the Sylis finished top of Group H in the qualification process, coming up above Cote d’Ivoire who finished second. They did not lose a game finishing with 12 points off three wins and three draws.
“It was a very tough qualification process but I was very pleased to help the team get back to the Africa Cup of Nations. There was so much support from every stakeholder because it was important for them to qualify,” Put stated.
“Now we need to make a good impression. It would be something great if we went all the way to the final but we will take one match at a time. Now we need to prepare well and ensure we have the best team.”
Guinea play their group matches in Alexandria and will kick off their campaign against Madagascar on June 22 before playing Nigeria’s Super Eagles four days later and winding down the group stage campaign against ‘Les Hirondelles’ of Burundi on June 30 at the Al Salaam Stadium in Cairo.