Although the odds were stacked strongly against them, Guinea dramatically qualified for the finals of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations. However, the Syli Nationale were given a slim chance against the tournament favourites Côte d’Ivoire ahead of their opening Group D match on Tuesday in the Equatorial Guineacapital of Malabo. But at the end of the 90 minutes it was the Elephants who counted themselves lucky to have escaped with a 1-1 draw.
Although the watching continent was surprised by the quality of the underdogs, man of the match and Guinean captain Ibrahima Traore told FIFA.com that the result was no shock. “We have no fear. We knew from the beginning that we were a team nobody would count as a favourite, but we are not scared of any opponent, and we have nothing to lose, so we can simply play our game. And that is what we want to do in our next match against Cameroon.”
Against Côte d’Ivoire, Mohammed Yattara opened the scoring for the Guineans in the first half. A speedy forward, Traore then hit the crossbar and the Elephants were reduced to 10 men after Gervinho received a red card for slapping an opponent. However, the veteran Elephants side rallied at the end and found a 72nd minute equaliser through substitute Seydou Doumbia.
“[Experience] was the difference between the two sides. We played a good game against a strong team but lacked the experience to win the match. Teams like Côte d’Ivoire will win games if they play well because they have the experience to do so. And we don’t. We have euphoria, but experience is more important. We have a very young side – I think one of the youngest in the tournament. But you could see when Côte d’Ivoire where a goal and a man down they remained calm and played well at the end,” Traore explained.