Guinea Derby between Equatorial Guinea & Guinea

* We are not favorites, we always respect the opponent—Equatorial Guinea coach Juan Micha

* We are much better than in 2021 and know each other better—Guinea coach Kaba Diawara

Maravi Express

A Guinean derby looms in the knockout stages of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Côte d’Ivoire 2023 as Equatorial Guinea prepare to face off with Guinea in the Round of 16 this evening at Ebimpe’s Alassane Ouattara Olympic Stadium at 19:00hrs.


After defying all odds in a tough Group A, Equatorial Guinea finished top of the group ahead of tournament hosts, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria as well as Guinea-Bissau.

The standout performance of their group campaign certainly was their 4-0 thrashing of the hosts at a packed Alassane Ouattara Olympic stadium that sent shockwaves in the football world.

With 9 goals scored in three matches, they have the best attack at this stage of the competition, with striker and captain Emilio Nsue Lopez leading the tournament’s scoring charts with 5 goals.

Equatorial Guinea are participating in their fourth AFCON following their qualification in 2012, 2015 and 2021) and their best showing was in the 2015 edition where they reached the semi-finals of the competition.

Their opponent, Guinea qualified as one of the four best third placed finishers after finishing on 4 points in Group C behind leaders Senegal (9 points) and Cameroon who were level on points but with a better goal difference.

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Their best showing dates back to 1976 when they lost to Morocco in the final played in Ethiopia and under coach Kaba Diawara the current team were eliminated in the Round of 16 during the two previous editions — and were also quarter-finalists in 2006, 2008 and 2015.

This will be the first AFCON finals meeting between the two homonymous nations and in a pre-match comments, Equatorial Guinea coach Juan Micha said: “I think we are here to tackle match by match — we are already in the Round of 16 which will be a difficult match.

“We are not favorites — we always respect the opponent. We take the match as a normal game, and we will work hard in our preparation.

“We are a humble family who work every day to improve. The results we have achieved do not mean that we are the best. We work every day and take things step by step.”


His counterpart, Kaba Diawara said: “At this stage, we can no longer work on the physical aspect. We work on tactics; we insisted on working on what we want to put in place tomorrow.

“In the Round of 16, there are no favorites. We are much better than in 2021 and know each other better. All we want is to win. We know that the group stage has nothing to do with the knockout stage. It’s another AFCON which is direct elimination. We just have to win, and I insist on that.”

Meanwhile, seven time’s champions Egypt — who are without their talisman, Mohamed Salah who got injured and flew to England for treatment — are up against DR Congo at the Stade Laurent Pokou Stadium in San Pedro at 22:00hrs.

Mo Salah

Without the injured Mo Salah, the Pharaohs know they will have to give more of themselves and coach Rui Vitoria said: “Coming here, we knew that we would only settle for the finals so it will be another final against the DRC.

“They are a good team and will be difficult to beat. We are ready but not 100% due to our numerous injuries — but we have to deal with it.

“We’ve had a bit of bad luck following us from the start but that’s football. We are ambitious — we are going to put our qualities into play. All the teams in this competition are equal,” he said.

Returning to this level of the competition since 2019, DR Congo do not intend to stop — and, especially after the hurdles of the group stage, they are eager to prove a point.

Just like their opponents, the Leopards did not win a single match to reach the second round with three draws from three matches and a concern for the Leopards will be their inability to convert, which is something they will look at fixing ahead of their clash with Egypt.

With coach Sébastien Desabre who has brought the Leopards back to life, they may still have some hope to cling on to: “Clearly, Egypt is the favourite in this match,” Desabre said. “We will be challengers and this position suits us too.

“The match will be difficult because we know the potential of Egypt but we also know that we have a good margin for improvement. We know what we need to improve.

“Until then, we have shown interesting things but not necessarily validated by victories. My players are motivated — we are going to use the ball, and play our game. We want to show everyone that DR Congo is back.”

Winners between Equatorial Guinea and Guinea will face those between Egypt and DR Congo on February 2.—Reporting by CAFonline