Perhaps this is what many will describe as the toughest clash in Group B of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nation as Senegal and Guinea face each other on Friday, January 14.
Senegal licked off their campaign with an unconvincing narrow win over Zimbabwe at the Kouekong Stadium, needing a 97th-minute penalty from Sadio Mane to break the deadlock and secure all three points earlier this week.
Guinea on the other hand put in a good performance against Malawi at the same venue as Issiaga Sylla scored the only goal of the game to ensure a win for the Syli Nationals.
Both teams resilience will be put to test when they come face-to-face in the second round of fixtures in the tournament, which is ongoing in Cameroon.
Senegal and Guinea are in contrasting forms in their last few games with the Teranga Lions boasting a seven-game unbeaten run across all competitions while Guinea have lost just two of their games during that same period.
In the last eight meetings involving this pair, Aliou Cisse’s side has won eight of the previous 12, losing the recent one on penalties in 2019.
Senegal struggled against Zimbabwe but they have the chance on Friday to prove they are worthy contenders for the title against a resilient Guinean side.
WHERE AND WHEN?
Venue: Kouekong Stadium.
Date: Friday, January 14.
Time: 13:00 GMT.
Just as in the case of the opening game, Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly and Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy are all not expected to be back in time for this fixture as well due to returning positive Covid-19 test results a few days ago. They are joined by Famara Diedhou who is absent for the same reason. However, Pape Matar Sarr, Saliou Ciss and Nampalys Mendy are back with the team.
Saidow Sow and Ibrahima Conte both picked up knocks in the first game but should be fit to face Senegal on Friday. Kaba Diawara is not expected to make too many tweaks to his side against the competition’s favourites.
For how they played against Zimbabwe, Senegal were far from their usual best. The team suffered in creating chances while their backline was exposed on a number of occasions, raising a cause for concern.
Cisse would have to come up with a strategy that best fits his squad and ensure to issue instructions while coming up with variations.
Against Guinea, a side that is disciplined, Senegal have a lot to do in breaking down the midfield while a three-man backline will be important to at least taking a point from Senegal on the path of Guinea.
PREMIER LEAGUE PLAYER FEATURE
This game will feature three English Premier League players with Liverpool’s Naby Keita and Sadio Mane going head to head while Crystal Palace’s Cheikhou Kouyate will also be involved. Mendy is yet to make an appearance in the competition due to testing positive for the virus. The shot-stopper is yet to recover and has been ruled out of the game.
All hopes of having Ismaila Sarr making an appearance may not be over yet as Senegal continue to monitor the progress of the player’s recovery from a knee injury.
Mane has one goal to his name already and will be targeting another in the encounter against the Syli Nationals.
Senegal predicted XI: Dieng; Ballo-Toure, Cisse, Diallo, Mbaye; B. Sarr, Kouyate, M. Sarr; Balde, Dia, Mane.
Guinea predicted XI: Keita; Kane, Sow, Camara, Conte, Sylla; Camara, Diawara, Keita; Kante, Bayo.
Senegal 1-0 Guinea