This Guinea-Bissau AFCON 2023 preview will take an in-depth look at the challenges facing them, and the key personnel that could make them surprise qualifiers for the knockout stage, despite being drawn into a highly formidable Group A.
How did Guinea-Bissau qualify for AFCON?
Guinea-Bissau have created a historic achievement by securing direct qualification for the AFCON competition for the fourth consecutive time since their debut in 2017. This feat stands out as they outperformed heavyweight teams like Ghana.
Navigating a challenging qualifier group, which featured three-time AFCON champions Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Sao Tome, they advanced from the group just two points behind the leader, Nigeria.
With 4 wins, 1 draw, and 1 loss, their qualification is highlighted by a remarkable victory over Nigeria on their away turf, providing them with a significant morale boost. Even though they faced defeat in the return fixture, the fact that they secured a win is a notable achievement.
Guinea-Bissau AFCON 2023 Preview
Who will Guinea-Bissau play at AFCON 2023?
Guinea-Bissau were drawn in AFCON Group A alongside three-time winners Nigeria, host nation Ivory Coast and Equatorial Guinea.
Kicking off their AFCON 2023 group stage journey, Guinea-Bissau is set to take on the host nation Ivory Coast. This presents a significant challenge for the team, considering the Elephants' impressive unbeaten streak of 5 games at home. Additionally, Ivory Coast hold a FIFA ranking of 52, whereas Guinea-Bissau are positioned at 110.
In their inaugural meeting, Guinea-Bissau is gearing up to face Equatorial Guinea, marking a pivotal fixture in the group stage. A victory here would position Guinea-Bissau well for a potential third-place finish, offering them a shot at advancing to the next round.
In their last group stage encounter, Guinea-Bissau is set to take on the formidable Super Eagles, who are considered favourites not just for this match but for the entire tournament. However, Guinea-Bissau remains optimistic, drawing inspiration from their previous victory against Nigeria.
How far will Guinea-Bissau go?
Coach Baciro Cande is at the helm for the fourth time, leading Guinea-Bissau's current golden generation into AFCON once again. However, historical trends suggest that advancing past the group stages might be a challenging feat. In their three previous attempts, the team couldn't progress beyond this stage
While Guinea-Bissau boasts one of its best-ever squads, the competition from heavyweight nations like Nigeria and Ivory Coast poses a formidable challenge. The slim possibility lies in securing victory against Equatorial Guinea, securing a third-place finish in the group.
This would open a window for potential qualification based on the points accumulated by other third-placed teams in different groups.
Bookmakers, evaluating these scenarios, offer only a 7/4 (36.36%) chance for Guinea-Bissau to progress from the group stage.
Guinea-Bissau – Predicted AFCON 2023 XI
Coach Cande is likely to place his trust in Jonas Mendes, the team's captain and the most capped player in the country's history, to lead the squad and thwart the opposition's scoring attempts. The second goalkeeper, Ouparine Djoco, has been given the nod in recent games, having made his debut, and he's started in two matches.
The defensive line has developed a knack for securing narrowly poised games when their team is in the lead by 1 or 2 goals. Players like Sori Mane, Nanu, Sangante, Encanda, and the 25-year-old Mendes are vying for starting positions. Coach Cande has also deployed midfielder Alfa Semedo in the back line recently, so surprises might be in store too.
With a blend of youth and experience in the midfield, this becomes a crucial area for the team. Coach Cande typically employs two pivots and three attacking midfielders who also contribute defensively.
Piqueti Djassi and the 28-year-old Janio Bikel could be the players entrusted with aiding both in attack and defence.
Mama Balde typically takes on the role of the lone striker, having scored 3 goals in 21 appearances. Additionally, Frederic Mendy, Jorginho, Joseph Mendes, and Zinho Gano contribute with goals when needed.