Ebola-ravaged Guinea overcome odds to reach Nations Cup

Reuters , Friday 21 Nov 2014

Guinea's players celebrate scoring a goal against Egypt during their 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match at El-Gouna stadium in Hurghada, about 464 km (288 miles) from the capital Cairo September 10, 2013. (Photo: Reuters)

Ebola-ravaged Guinea overcame considerable odds to book an African Nations Cup finals place, but must still deal with logistical difficulties and prejudice as they look ahead to the tournament in January.

Guinea is one of the African countries hit hardest by the ravages of the deadly haemorrhagic fever, which has claimed more than 1,100 lives there.

Their national team have had to play homes games at a neutral venue after the Confederation of African Football banned the hosting of international matches in Guinea.

Their players have also come under pressure to avoid the competition.

Borussia Moenchengladbach’s Ibrahima Traore, who scored for Guinea in their decisive tie against Uganda on Wednesday to secure qualification, was threatened with isolation from his Bundesliga team mates when he returned.

"We have had to go around in a very strange context," coach Michel Dussuyer said this week, “with health checks and fleeting glances."

Morocco allowed them to play their ‘home’ games in Casablanca, but the players had to undergo temperature checks twice daily.

"There have been some measures we’ve felt have been discriminatory and when you have your temperature taken twice a day it can get annoying. But everything really is in the attitude of people you meet and the strange responses we get," Dussuyer added.

The coach has stayed in Guinea's capital Conakry even though almost all of his players fly in and out of Africa from their clubs in Europe.

"We ourselves have been very attentive to what is happening within the squad. We are not irresponsible. We are prudent, it’s a logical approach and it is accepted,” Dussuyer said.

The coach, however, also thanked Morocco, who allowed them to play their qualifiers in Casablanca, and Benin, where they held training camps.

Guinea now need to find a training venue for two weeks in January, before the Nations Cup kicks off.

“There is great satisfaction in being able to qualify and to silence our detractors,” Dussuyer added, after Guinea finished second in their group behind Ghana.

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