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Monday, Oct 21, 2019

FIFA U-17 World Cup: Guinea gone for now, promise plenty in the future

Guinea were knocked out of the FIFA U-17 World Cup after losing their final Group C game against Germany on Friday, but the African team showed plenty of promise

fifa-u17-world-cup-2017 Updated: Oct 14, 2017 16:27 IST
Bhargab Sarmah
Bhargab Sarmah
Hindustan Times, Kochi
Guinea put up a good fight against Germany in the FIFA U-17 World Cup but they lost 1-3 and crashed out of the tournament.
Guinea put up a good fight against Germany in the FIFA U-17 World Cup but they lost 1-3 and crashed out of the tournament.(PTI)

Guinea were among the least known African teams in the FIFA U-17 World Cup and it came as no surprise when they were eliminated on Friday after a 3-1 defeat against Germany at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here.

Ahead of the game, the equation for Guinea was simple: Beat Germany and book a spot in the Round of 16, or be knocked out. Although Guinea lost, they put up a titanic struggle against the European giants.

Skipper Fandje Toure combined well with Doss Soumah up front while playmaker Aguibou Camara stood out as Guinea controlled large periods of the game.

After Jann-Fiete Arp gave Germany an early lead in a frenetic start to the game, Guinea’s response forced their opponents to sit back deep.

They produced chance after chance and rightback Ibrahima Soumah scored the equaliser in the 25th minute.

Hurt by poor finish

However, poor finishing and occasionally losing the ball in the final third didn’t help as Germany eventually managed to create opening and score twice in the second half.

However, the scoreline doesn’t reflect how things panned out.

Guinea not only managed 55 percent possession, they had a whopping 24 attempts on goal compared to Germany’s 17.

But lack of maturity let Guinea down when it came to finishing. Of their 24 shots, only two were on target, whereas Germany had eight shots on target out of 17.

The performance against Germany wasn’t a one-off. As stats from their previous two group games against Iran and Costa Rica illustrate, Guinea showed great qualities despite their short-lived campaign.

They had an astonishing 42 shots in their 2-2 draw against Costa Rica, 14 of which were on target. Like against Germany, they had 55 percent possession in this game.

In the 3-1 defeat to Iran, Guinea had 60 percent possession and 17 attempts on goal, seven of them on target. Iran, however, managed 23 shots, with six on target and half of them resulting in goals.

Great attacking potential

These numbers point to a side with immense attacking potential. As coach Souleymane Camara said after the loss to Germany, things could have been different had his side capitalised on the numerous scoring opportunities in the three games.

“We are preparing the current crop of players for future tournaments. In 2023, Guinea will be hosting the African Cup of Nations. We will try to capitalise on our experience at the FIFA U-17 World Cup,” he said.

In their three games, Guinea showed tremendous intelligence on the ball, and with fast wingers on their flanks, displayed a number of variations in their game.

There is no doubt this side could do with some clinical finishing, but for a country that doesn’t have the most illustrious record in international football, Guinea’s FIFA U-17 World Cup showing is a pointer to the nation’s immense potential in the game.

First Published: Oct 14, 2017 16:17 IST

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