Can-do attitude key for Cande
Guinea-Bissau not at Afcon to make up the numbers – just ask the hosts
GUINEA-Bissau coach Barico Cande swaggered into the Stade de l’Amitie’s auditorium wearing an expressionless face and the captain’s armband.
The armband was a fitting touch to his wardrobe because the Wild Dogs “captain” steered the small nation’s ship to their first Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) appearance.
And when they seemed to have hit troubled waters, starting their campaign against the hosts Gabon – in a group that also features four-time African champions Cameroon without having played a competitive match in four months – the plucky Cande still had a trick up his sleeve.
He masterminded the upset that left the hosts stunned.
Those who crammed into the stadium booed the Panthers off the pitch after the 1-1 draw.
This venue is used to upsets. Zambia were crowned African champions here in 2012 after their unfancied side stunned a star-studded Ivory Coast led by Didier Drogba.
“We always said that we don’t have top class players as the other teams like Gabon but we have a very strong team and a good collective,” Cande said.
“That’s our strength. We got to this point because we worked hard as a unit and never gave up. But we are not getting carried away. There is a lot that we still need to do.
“We have the ambition to go as far as possible. We are going to take this gradually, step-bystep. This isn’t the end, getting a draw from Gabon. We won’t stop here. We are an ambitious bunch.”
Guinea-Bissau will be back at Stade de l’Amitie on Wednesday to take on the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon (9pm SA time).
Before that, Gabon will take on Burkina Faso (6pm).
Group A is wide open after the first round of matches that both ended 1-1. That means whoever wins on Wednesday will have one foot in the knockout stage.
There is huge pressure on Spanish coach Jose Antonio Camacho to take Gabon there. He was visible frustrated after the match, which wasn’t helped by being asked if there was confusion in the team because of a language barrier, with him speaking Spanish and the Gabonese players speaking French.
The press conference with both caches was a linguistic marathon. Camacho spoke Spanish which was translated to French and then English, while Cande spoke Portuguese that also went through the same thing.
But what wasn’t lost in translation was that Camacho is feeling the pressure and his side need to deliver against the Stallions, who’ll offer them a stronger challenge than minnows Guinea-Bissau.
“We had three points and we lost two of them,” Camacho said.
“Guinea-Bissau never gave up and that’s the fighting spirit we need to have. They had a good strategy for us. We needed to be stronger. We lost so many balls because of poor control. That’s why we conceded that late goal.
“We will improve on that for the next match. We still have a good chance of going through to the next round. We watched our opponents and saw what is it that we need to do for our next match against Burkina Faso and then our last match against Cameroon.”