Guinea eager to learn from U-17 World Cup experience
Guinea failed to qualify for the knockout stages of the FIFA U-17 World Cup following a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Germany on Friday. However coach Souleymane Camara feels the experience will bear fruit in six years' time, when the Africans will host the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) for the first time.
"We are preparing a crop of players for the future. In 2023, we will be hosting the Cup of Nations, and we will be telling players to play with academies of top division clubs," Camara said.
Despite dominating possession in all three of their group games, Guinea finished the World Cup with two defeats and a draw. In the opening match against eventual table-toppers Iran, Guinea had 16 shots to the Iran's 23, but that ratio increasingly skewed towards them in subsequent games -- 40 shots to Costa Rica's seven, and 22 to Germany's 17.
"We have had at least 30 chances across the three games, against Iran, Costa Rica and tonight against Germany. We haven't been able to capitalise on that, and this is something we must work on," Camara said.
Guinea could only score four goals while conceding eight through the World Cup, with captain Fandje Toure and right-back Ibrahima Soumah sharing the goals equally. The lack of precision with their finishing remained a source of concern for their coach. "In every match we have played, we have created chances, but in football you have to convert," he said.
Guinea's best players on the night were both in defensive positions -- central defensive midfielder Sekou Camara who played a compact game sitting in front of the back four and goalkeeper Mohamed Camara, who was in fine form through the game.
Mohamed effected five saves in all, including a double-save off Yannik Keitel and Nicolas Kuhn in quick succession in the second half. The Guinean goalkeeper, who is the only squad member from Guinea to have come from the academy run by former Liverpool striker 'Titi' Camara, drew praise from his coach for his performance on the night.
"Yes, he has played well. He saved many goals through the game, but that is also because there were some faults in our defending. But overall, I am very happy for him," Camara said.
Guinea are one of the 16 nations that took part in the first U-17 World Cup, known then as the U-16 World Championship, and secured fourth place in China in 1985. They have now gone four appearances in the finals since without progressing beyond the group stages.
They go home without a single win but Camara knows they had their moments, and plenty of players in this squad could find themselves in contention for places in the national team in the near future.