FIFA U17: Results over style, says Guinea coach

Placed in Group C alongside Costa Rica, Iran and Germany, Guinea coach Souleymane Camara has set his side a target of reaching at least the round-of-16 stage at the upcoming FIFA U-17 World Cup.

"I feel very confident of progressing despite it (quality in Group C) being very high,” says coach Souleymane Camara.   -

Guinea’s coach Souleymane Camara is ready to compromise attacking flair for results in the upcoming FIFA U-17 World Cup, when his side kicks off its campaign against Iran at Fatorda Stadium in Goa on Saturday.

Guinea had qualified for the biennial tournament on the back of a third-place finish in the eight-team U-17 Africa Cup of Nations held in Gabon earlier this year. “We will make sacrifices (in style) if necessary. The World Cup is played between 24 sides, not eight as was the case with the Africa Cup of Nations,” said the coach in a chat with Sportstar.

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In 1985, the African nation qualified for the first ever U-17 World Cup in China and it finished fourth. Since then, it has made only three appearances and has not gone past the first round. Camara has set a target of reaching the round-of-16 stage which would require getting past the experienced sides in Germany, Costa Rica and Iran.

No easy ride

The Guinea team will not get any easy ride with the likes of Iran defeating France and Mexico comprehensively in pre-tournament friendlies last week. Camara is aware of the task at hand over the next one week. “Our way of playing varies according to the opponent. That is why we respect everybody, (there will be) no susceptibility. I feel very confident of progressing despite it (quality in Group C) being very high,” he said.

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The coach retains confidence in the group at his disposal, which will be spearheaded by 14-year-old striker Djibril Fandanje Toure. He scored six goals in the qualifying tournament in Gabon to win the golden boot. “Yes, there is a lot of quality in this team but we have much work to do to star in this group,” stressed Camara.

Generational shift

Guinean football is undergoing a generational shift towards producing footballers who can hold their own among the superstars of Europe. Liverpool’s new record signing Naby Keita is the forerunner for not just Guinean football but for the whole of Africa. The U-20 national side has already qualified for the World Cup in the Korea Republic earlier this year, which was followed by the U-17 side’s qualification for the tournament in India. The country will also host its first senior Africa Cup of Nations in 2023.

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Camara hopes the Guinea Football Federation builds on these achievements and can take the game forward in his country. “There is a lot of quality footballers. If we keep the same organisational dynamics and if the authorities move in the realisation of infrastructures, Guinea is full of other talents who can join this beautiful generation to play the game,” he observed.

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