FIFA U-17 World Cup: Guinea arrive in India, confident of reaching knockouts
Guinea, who are placed in Group C of the FIFA U-17 World Cup along with Iran, Costa Rica and Germany, will be determined to reach the knockouts after their preparation was affected by the Ebola virus.fifa u17 world cup 2017 Updated: Oct 03, 2017 20:59 IST
African side Guinea arrived to participate in their fifth FIFA Under-17 World Cup to be held across six venues of India from October 6 to 28.
Guinea, who were supposed to touch down at 4.30 pm IST, landed at 5:45 pm (IST) by Jet Airways. Germany was the first team from Group C to land followed by Iran, Costa Rica and Guinea.
Guinea, who are considered as the dark horse, will play their first match against Iran on October 7.
Along with Nigeria and Congo, Guinea were one of the first three African sides to take part in the competition, recording two wins, two draws and two defeats en route to finishing fourth at China 1985.
Four years laters in Scotland, they missed out on a place in the second round despite finishing the group phase unbeaten with three draws.
Coach Souleymane Camara said his side can reach the knockout round for the first time in their history.
“It’s too early to talk about winning the competition. We have got players who are still developing. They’re going to be coming up against professional players who’ve already picked up valuable experience at reserve team level with clubs like Paris, Lyon and Marseille,” he said. “Despite the gap we’ll be giving everything we have got to go as far as we can.”
“We should be dreaming about getting beyond the group phase something that no team from Guinea has ever done before.
After that, we can start focusing on the following rounds and try to go all the way. We need to bear in mind that we are going to be competing at a very high level, which means we have to be cautious and respect our opponents,” he added.
Camara said it won’t be easy for his side to get past the group stage.
“It’s a difficult group. The Iranians played Japan three times and came away with a win and two draws. I’m expecting them to be very strong. I’ve spoken with the coach of Costa Rica, who I think will be one of the best teams at the U-17 World Cup, along with Brazil. And as for Germany, they don’t need any introduction,” he said.
Guinea were knocked out in the first round at Chile 2015 and qualified for India 2017 after finishing third at the U-17 Africa Cup of Nations.
The Ebola virus struck Guinea hard between 2014 and 2016, claiming the lives of 2,543 people and sending thousands to hospital. During that time the country’s clubs and national team were forced to play their home games away.
Looking back on the obstacles Guinea faced in their qualifying campaign, Camara said: “It’s the result of a lot of hard work. We made it despite the problems we had at the Africa Cup of Nations. I’m a young coach coming up against some very experienced operators, but that has not stopped us from earning our place at the U-17 World Cup.”
“Ebola caused us a lot of problems but we managed to rise to the challenge,” said Camara. “Our preparations are going as expected. We had a one-month training camp in Italy followed by another 10-day camp in Abu Dhabi. And we’re going to keep on preparing hard so that we can spring a surprise at the World Cup,” he added.
First Published: Oct 03, 2017 20:58 IST