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Africa Cup of Nations

Afcon: Guinea need to work very hard to boost title chances, says Paul Put

00:07 EAT 15/05/2019
Naby Keita of Guinea
The National Elephants are hoping to better their performance in their continental showpiece scheduled to begin on June 21 in Egypt

Coach Paul Put has admitted that the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations will not be an easy one for Guinea, as they chase a maiden continental title.

The National Elephants have been paired against Nigeria, Madagascar and Burundi in Group B, for their 12th appearance in the biennial tournament.

Six years ago, Put guided Burkina Faso to their first Afcon final against the Super Eagles in South Africa, but the Stallions bowed out after a 1-0 defeat.

Guinea’s best outing in the continental showpiece was in 1976 when they finished as runners-up, but the Belgian tactician hopes that his vast experience will help the National Elephants navigate past the group stage.

“I believe in our chances, but we need to work very hard for it. It will not be easy for us,” Put told the Caf website.

 “We have Nigeria, a strong opponent and I have good memories against them from 2013 with Burkina Faso. I hope I can make the same experience with Guinea this time around.

“Madagascar and Burundi are seen as outsiders but it is never easy playing against outsiders. It will be very difficult to play against them but I hope we can get out of this group. It is not easy and maybe we will have to play until the last day of the group.”

Guinea will begin their campaign in Egypt with a fixture against Madagascar at the Alexandria Stadium on June 22 before taking on Nigeria and Burundi on June 26 and 30 respectively.

After missing the 2017 edition in Gabon, Put guided the West African country back to the foremost football competition in the continent with an unblemished record of three wins and three draws from six qualifying matches.

The 62-year-old reveled in the feat as they finished their qualification campaign as Group H winners ahead of Cote d'Ivoire.

“It was a very tough qualification process but I was very pleased to help the team get back to the Africa Cup of Nations. There was so much support from every stakeholder because it was important for them to qualify,” he added.

“Now we need to make a good impression. It would be something great if we went all the way to the final but we will take one match at a time. Now we need to prepare well and ensure we have the best team.”