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Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2021 Preview: Group B

The AFCON trophy

Group B AFCON preview

Group B at the delayed 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) preview will be contested by the 2019 losing finalists Senegal, Guinea, Zimbabwe and Malawi. They will play their matches at the Kouekong Stadium which is located in Kouekong, a suburb of Bafoussam, Cameroon.

Bafoussam is the capital and largest city of the West Region of Cameroon.

SportsLeo takes a look at the group in depth and the schedule of matches.


Group B AFCON preview

Senegal team lines up before a past match

AFCON appearances – 16

Titles – 0

Coach – Alliou Cisse

Despite their huge talent base and being a constant face at the Africa Cup of Nations, Senegal’s Lions of Teranga have never won the African title. They have reached the final twice, in 2002 when Alliou Cisse was the captain and 2019 when he was the coach.

They will be walking in to the 2021 showpiece looking to go one better and hunt for that elusive title, that eluded even their golden generation of 2002 that reached the quarter finals of the FIFA World Cup.

Senegal qualified for the Cup of Nations as Group I winners with an unbeaten record having won four and drawn two of their six qualification matches to rank top on 14 points. Famara Diedhiou was their top scorer, netting three goals in six games.

Coach Cisse will be looking to break the duck of losing two finals and for his squad to Egypt has named a strong squad.

The Senegalese team will be led by Liverpool star striker Sadio Mane who will once again be looked upon to deliver the goals upfront. Also included in the squad is goalkeeper Edouard Mendy who has starred with Chelsea since joining them last season.

Mendy missed his first Cup of Nations after switching allegiances from Guinea Bissau in 2019 through injury. Other notable players in Senegal’s squad include defender Kalidou Koulibaly and Watford striker Ismaila Sarr.

Senegal have included 17 debutants in their squad for the Cup of Nations but a majority of the spine of the squad played at the 2019 event.

They will however miss the services of Belgium based midfielder Krepin Diatta who is out injured.

Senegal star forward Sadio Mane

Senegal squad:

Goalkeepers: Edouard Mendy (Chelsea, England), Alfred Gomis (Rennes, France), Sény Dieng (Queens Park Rangers, England)

Defenders: Bouna Sarr (Bayern, Germany), Saliou Ciss (Nancy, France), Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli, Italy), Pape Abou Cissé (Olympiacos, Greece), Abdou Diallo (Paris Saint Germain, France), Ibrahima Mbaye (Bologna, Italy), Abdoulaye Seck (Royal Antwerp, Belgium), Fodé Ballo-Touré (Milan, Italy), Cheikhou Kouyaté (Crystal Palace, England)

Midfielders: Pape Matar Sarr (FC Metz, France), Pape Gueye (Marseille, France), Nampalys Mendy (Leicester City, England), Idrissa Gana Gueye (Paris Saint Germain, France), Moustapha Name (Paris FC, France), Mamadou Loum Ndiaye (Deportivo Alaves, Spain), Joseph Lopy (Sochaux, France)

Forwards: Sadio Mané (Liverpool, England), Ismaila Sarr (Watford, England), Bamba Dieng (Marseille, France), Keita Baldé (Cagliari, Italy), Habib Diallo (Strasbourg, France), Boulaye Dia (Villareal, Spain), Famara Diédhiou (Alanyaspor, Turkey), Mame Baba Thiam (Kayserispor, Turkey)


Guinea team lines up before a past match

AFCON appearances – 13

Titles won – 0

Head coach: Kaba Diawara

The Syli Nationale struggled at the last Cup of Nations where they didn’t make it past the round of 16, losing 3-0 to eventual champions Algeria. Their performance was hugely anchored on the injury to star midfielder and captain Naby Keita.

Keita travelled to Egypt just after recovering from injury but unluckily suffered a recurrence. The midfielder has been troubled by injury throughout his stay at Liverpool, but has recently managed to string in consecutive matches.

He is expected to be the team’s leading light in Cameroon.

Guinea, currently camping in Rwanda, qualified for the Cup of Nations as Group A runners up, having finished with 11 points, two ahead of group winners Mali. They posted three wins and two draws with their only defeat coming surprisingly at the hands of Namibia away from home.

Keita and Mamadou Kane scored two goals each for the Guineans to aid them in qualification.

New coach Kaba Diawara has named a fresh looking squad with several new faces. Among the new players included in the squad is Mohamed Bayo, who has scored 9 goals in 15 games for French Ligue 1 side Clermont Foot.

The tactician who replaced Frenchman Didier Six at the helm of the team has also included two local based players in goalkeeper Moussa Camara and midfielder Morlaye Sylla, the two Horoya AC players who played in the CHAN 2020 last January in Cameroon.

Guinea Squad:

Guinea’s star Naby Keita

Goalkeepers: Aly Kéita (Östersund / Sweden), Ibrahima Koné (Hibernians PC Paola / Malta), Moussa Camara (Horoya AC / Guinea)

Defenders: Issiaga Sylla (Toulouse FC / France), Pa Konaté (Botev Plovdiv / Bulgaria), Saidou Sow (AS Saint-Étienne / France), Ibrahima Sory Conté (Niort / France), Florentin Pogba (Sochaux / France), Mohamed Aly Camara (Young Boys from Berne / Switzerland), Ousmane Kanté (Paris FC / France), Mickael Dyrestam (AD Xanthi / Greece), Antoine Conté (CS Universitatea Craiova / Romania)

Midfielders: Amadou Diawara (AS Roma / Italy), Ibrahima Cissé (RFC Seraing / Belgium), Mory Konaté (Sint-Truiden / Belgium), Moriba Kourouma (RB Leipzig / Germany), Mamadou Kané (Neftchi Baku / Azerbaijan), Morlaye Sylla (Horoya AC / Guinea), Aguibou Camara (Olympiacos / Greece), Naby Kéita (Liverpool / England), Ibrahima Sory Conté Maibra (Bnei Sakhnin FC / Israel)

Forwards: Seydouba Soumah (Al Kuwait SC / Kuwait), Morgan Guilavogui (Paris FC / France), Lamarana Diallo (Grenoble / France), Martinez Kanté (FC Kairat Almaty / Kazakhstan), Mohamed Bayo (Clermont / France), Sory Kaba (OH Louvain / Belgium)


Malawi team lines up before a past match

AFCON appearances – 3

Titles won – 0

Head coach – Mario Marinica

The Flames are returning to the Cup of Nations for the first time since 2010 and will look to upset the balances among the two favourites in the group. They qualified to the Cup of Nations as Group B runners up, having accumulated 10 points off three wins and a draw with two losses.

They won two and drew one of their home matches, losing twice away and winning once against South Sudan.

The squad will be reliant on the finishing prowess of the South African based duo of Gabadinho Mhango and Richard Mbulu.

Malawi’s squad is heavily laden with players plying their trade in Africa. Among the European based players include midfielder Charles Petro who comes into the side with Champions League experience from his Moldovan club Sheriff Tiraspol.

The squad also includes midfielder Francisco Madiga who plays for FC Dila Gori in Georgia.

Malawi AFCON squad

Malawi star Gabadinho Mhango

Goalkeepers: Ernest Kakhobwe (Nyasa Big Bullets), William Thole (BF Wanderers), Charles Thom (Silver Strikers)

Defenders: Limbikani Mzava (Amazulu, South Africa), Dennis Chembezi (Polokwane City, South Africa), Nickson Mwase (Silver Strikers), Mark Fodya (Silver Strikers), Sankhani Mkandawire (Nyasa Big Bullets), Gomezgani Chirwa (Nyasa Big Bullets), Lawrence Chaziya (Civo Sporting), Paul Ndlobvu (MAFCO), Stanley Saudi (BF Wanderers), Peter Cholopi (BF Wanderers)

Midfielders: John Banda (UD Songo, Mozambique), Charles Petro (Sheriff Tiraspol, Moldova), Chimwemwe Idana (Nyasa Big Bullets), Chikoti Chirwa (Red Lions), Micium Mhone (Blue Eagles), Gerald Phiri Junior (Al Hilal, Sudan), Robin Ngalande (St George, Ethiopia), Yamikani Chester (BF Wanderers), Schumacher Kuwali (UD Songo, Mozambique), Fransisco Madinga (FC Dilla Gori, Georgia), Peter Banda (Simba SC, Tanzania), Zebron Kalima (Silver Strikers)

Strikers: Richard Mbulu (Baroka FC, South Africa), Khuda Muyaba (Polokwane City, South Africa), Henry Kumwenda (Butler Bulldogs, USA), Gabadinho Mhango (Orlando Pirates, South Africa), Stain Davie (Silver Strikers).


Zimbabwe team lines up before a past match

AFCON appearances – Five

Titles won – 0

Head coach – Norman Mapeza

Zimbabwe’s Warriors have never gone past the group stages in the five times they have played at the Cup of Nations, but hope to make a better appearance in Cameroon.

They progressed to the Cup of Nations after finishing second in Group H with eight points edging off Zambia on the final day with one point. They won twice, drew twice and lost twice to make a second consecutive appearance at the AFCON.

Ahead of the tournament, the team will be punctured with the absence of star striker Khama Billiat. The Kaizer Chiefs forward who scored twice in qualification announced his retirement from the national team after the World Cup qualifiers.

Zimbabwe’s Khama Billiat

As such, coach Mapeza will have to look elsewhere for the hunt for goals, and his eyes will most likely fall on experienced skipper Knowledge Musona and Azam FC striker Prince Dube.

Just like Malawi, a huge chunk of the squad will be made up of players who ply their trade in Africa.

Among the several European based players who will be in the squad is forward Tino Kadewere who plies his trade with Lyon in France. Also named in the squad is defender Teenage Hadebe who plays in the USA with Houston Dynamo.

Zimbabwe squad:

Goalkeepers: Petros Mhari (FC Platinum), Martin Mapisa (FC Zamora, Spain), Talbert Shumba (Free State Stars, South Africa)

Defenders: Peter Muduwa (Highlanders), Alec Mudimu (Torpedo Kutaisi, Georgia), Takudzwa Chimwemwe (Nkana, Zambia), Jordan Zemura (Bournemouth, England), Godknows Muriwa (Dynamos), Gerald Takwara (Venda Football Academy, South Africa), Teenage Hadebe (Houston Dynamo, USA), Bruce Kangwa (Azam, Tanzania), Onismor Bhasera (SuperSport United, South Africa)

Midfielders: Kelvin Madzongwe (FC Platinum), Thabani Kamusoko (Zesco United, Zambia), Never Tigere (Azam, Tanzania), Kudakwashe Mahachi (SuperSport United, South Africa), Ishmael Wadi (JDR Stars, South Africa), Kundai Benyu (Vestri Isafjordur, Iceland)

Forwards: Admiral Muskwe (Luton Town, England), Prince Dube (Azam, Tanzania), David Moyo (Hamilton Academical, Scotland), Knowledge Musona (Al Tai, Saudi Arabia), Tinotenda Kadewere (Lyon, France)

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