Guinea v Madagascar: Put wary of Africa Cup of Nations debutants

Paul Put has warned his Guinea side against complacency ahead of their Africa Cup of Nations opener with Madagascar.

Guinea failed to qualify for the 2017 edition of the tournament but managed to reach the quarter-final stage in 2015.

Tournament debutants Madagascar are first up in Group B, which also includes Burundi and Nigeria.

And Put, who also confirmed Liverpool midfielder and Guinea captain Naby Keita should be fit to feature in Alexandria, is wary of Madagascar's threat.

"The first match is always very important because it will give us confidence to head into the rest of the tournament," he told a news conference.

"But, it is also dangerous because we are playing against a side that is regarded as an underdog and most of the time they are dangerous.

"Madagascar is a quality team. It might be their first AFCON but they have very experienced players.

"We have to pay attention to every detail to get a good result."

Put's counterpart Nicolas Dupuis, meanwhile, insists his side can play with freedom in their first appearance at the competition.

"There are a lot of teams in the continent who are very good but we are here," Dupuis said at his media briefing.

"We want to show everyone that we are a great team and we will surprise you.

"We have no pressure at all, we just want to come and do our best. It is a great experience for me and the rest of the players. We are all excited but we will not let the emotions kill our game.

"We also have our strengths and we will try to play the best we can. We want to concentrate on playing our game and adapting to what the opposition brings at us."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Guinea – Francois Kamano

While Keita is undoubtedly Guinea's star man, Francois Kamano heads to Egypt on the back of a strong season with Bordeaux, having scored 10 goals from 37 Ligue 1 appearances in 2018-19, and will provide a real threat from the flanks.

Madagascar – Jeremy Morel

French-born Lyon defender Jeremy Morel took the decision to play for Madagascar – the birthplace of his father – in 2018, and made his debut in November. He will provide some much-needed, top-level experience to the squad.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- This is the first encounter between Guinea and Madagascar in the AFCON.                                                                                                                                                               
- Guinea are taking part in their 12th AFCON. Only Senegal have more appearances (15, including this year) without ever winning the tournament.
- Guinea have been knocked out at the quarter-final stage in four of their last five AFCON participations.
- Madagascar are one of three teams making their AFCON debut at this year's tournament, alongside Burundi and Mauritania. 
- Guinea boss Paul Put is making his third appearance at an AFCON after leading Burkina Faso in 2013 (beaten finalist) and 2015 (group stages).

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