Guinea 1-0 Malawi: Liverpool star Naby Keita caps impressive display by linking up with Jose Kante to set up Issiaga Sylla for first-half winner in Group B clash at AFCON
- Guinea captain Naby Keita was named man of the match in Monday’s encounter
- Issiaga Sylla’s first-half strike claimed a fortunate 1-0 victory in Bafoussam
- Depleted Malawi were left to rue missed chances in the Group B clash
Guinea left-back Issiaga Sylla scored a first-half goal to steer his side to a fortunate 1-0 victory over depleted Malawi in an entertaining Africa Cup of Nations Group B clash at the Kouekong Stadium in Bafoussam on Monday.
Malawi, making a third appearance at the finals and first since 2010, had 13 members of their squad unavailable following a COVID-19 outbreak in their camp, which meant they could only name four players on the bench that included two goalkeepers.
But they missed numerous chances to claim something from the game and were left to rue their profligacy after 35 minutes when Naby Keita released Jose Kante to slide a perfect pass for Sylla to score from close range.
Guinea forward Jose Kante (right) takes on Malawi defender Gomezgani Chirwa
Guinea: Aly Keita, Kane, Sow (Ousmane Kante 71), Mohamed Ali Camara, Conte III, Issiaga Sylla, Aguibou Camara (Cisse 46),Diawara, Naby Keita, Jose Kante (Diallo 71), Bayo (Kaba 88).
Subs Not Used: Moriba,Moussa Camara, Pa Momodou Konate, Ibrahim Kone, Youssouf Siby.
Booked: Conte III.
Goals: Issiaga Sylla 35.
Malawi: Kakhobwe, Gomezgani Chirwa, Mzava, Chembezi, Mhone, John Banda,Idana, Madinga, Peter Banda (Kalima 80), Muyaba, Chester (Mbulu 65).
Subs Not Used: Thomu,Thole.
Guinea move level with Senegal at the top of the group after the latter beat Zimbabwe 1-0 in their opener thanks to a 97th minute Sadio Mane penalty earlier on Monday. The top two will meet in their second pool game at the same venue on Friday.
Malawi had the lion’s share of the chances but needed cooler heads in the box, though they also found Guinea goalkeeper Aly Keita in inspired form.
Most wasteful for them was striker Yamikani Chester, who twice found himself one-on-one with Keita.
The best of his chances came after 16 minutes when Mohamed Ali Camara’s poor pass in defence was intercepted by Chester, who had a clear run on goal.
Malawi midfielder Francisco Madinga (left) fights for the ball with Guinea’s Aguibou Camara
But he panicked and pulled the trigger too early and without much power, allowing a comfortable save for the keeper.
Malawi’s Peter Banda was also denied when his curling shot seemed destined for the top corner, before Keita clawed it away with a remarkable stop.
Guinea had other chances too, even if it took them a while to get out of first gear. Their first sight of goal came midway through the first half as Ibrahima Sory Conte’s header from a corner crashed against the post.
But Sylla’s gamble to roar into the box when Kante had the ball out wide proved the decisive moment as he was presented with a simple chance to slip his shot past keeper Ernest Kakhobwe from close range to net his third international goal.
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