'Pogba is my guide' - Guinea's Afcon hopefuls inspired by Juve star

The midfielder called to speak to his injured brother and will be cheering on the Syli Nationale in their crucial third game at the Africa Cup of Nations
Paul Pogba has sent a 'good luck' message to Guinea ahead of their final qualifying match at the Africa Cup of Nations.

The Juventus star's message prior to the clash with Mali in Bata comes at a good time, with Pogba's elder brother, Florentin, a key central defender, out for the rest of the tournament.

"He called his brother, and he sent us all a good luck message," said Kamil Zayatte, the Guinea captain who has missed the first two games because of injury. "He follows the Guinea team closely and is often in touch with us."

On Saturday, Andrea Pirlo was singing the praises of Paul, the €100m-rated midfielder who plays alongside him at Juventus. "Pogba has never stopped improving," Pirlo said. "He has everything to become a great player. If he keeps his head on his shoulders, he can make history."

On the same day, Florentin was carried off on a stretcher during Guinea's 1-1 draw with Cameroon.

Paul was born to Guinean parents in France, unlike twins Florentin and Mathias, who were born in Conakry, the Guinea capital. Because of his parentage Paul could have played for the Syli National but he was chosen for age-group teams in France and was always part of Les Bleus' set-up.

Mathias and Florentin are three years older than Paul. Mathias played for Wrexham and Crewe in England's lower leagues and now turns out for Pescara in Serie B. He has not made it to international level. Florentin, a 6ft 2in central defender, is at Saint-Etienne. He made his Guinea debut in 2010 but had played little international football until last year.

The odds have been stacked against Guinea, who have done exceptionally well to draw their first two games against Cote d'Ivoire and Cameroon. They played all their 'home' qualifiers in Morocco because of the presence of the Ebola virus within their borders. Nearly 2,000 Guineans have been killed by Ebola.

The Syli have had the player of the tournament to date in midfielder Ibrahima Traore, the only player to win successive man-of-the-match awards and scorer of an excellent goal against Cameroon. But they have suffered at the back.

Central defender Zayatte, who plays for Sheffield Wednesday, sat out two games and is still a doubt for the Mali match in Bata. "I trained yesterday and came through without complications, but I felt tight and sore this morning," he told Goal. "I will train again tonight and see how I am."

The other first-choice central defender, Fode Camara, plays for AS Horoya in the Guinean league. He was a late starter at international level but has done well in recent games when he has marked Emmanuel Adebayor (Togo), Wilfried Bony (Cote d'Ivoire) and Vincent Aboubaker (Cameroon).

"I always go to see Kamil before a game and he gives me good advice about to play against this player, against that player," Camara, 26, told Goal. "He is my guide. His words have been a big help to me."