Guinea leave Ebola behind, think about the podium

Guinea leave Ebola behind, think about the podium

Vasco: The sight of a mediaperson at the airport in Goa drew a collective look of apprehension among the Guinea officials accompanying their team to the U-17 World Cup on Tuesday.

They knew what was coming next. And their fears were not misplaced. It was the inevitable question about the Ebola virus that devastated the western African nation from 2014-16, claiming 2,543 lives and threatened to ruin its economy.

Coach Souleymane Camara wanted the conversation to stick to football. But when reminded that Guinea’s very presence at a world event after the ravages of the deadly disease meant a triumph of their country’s football itself, the words began to flow.

Speaking in French through an interpreter, Camara said “It’s a matter of great pride that Guinean football has overcome the disease and will be participating in this World Cup.

“Yes, the disease killed so many people but it had no impact on football and the players,” Camara said, pointing out that Guinea were third in the African Championships.

None of his players suffered in any way from the Ebola outbreak, he affirmed, while slamming the lid down on the subject, tactfully and effectively.

Camara was a playmaker par excellence in Guinea and his profound influence made for two National cups with FC Sequence.

He expressed confidence in his young charges, refused to tout any names as players to watch, saying “all of them represent Guinea and all of them are good”.

Being in a tough group with Germany, Iran and Costa Rica for company holds no fears for Camara as he spells out expectations. “We have come here to play good football. My boys have worked hard and I am hopeful it will lead to winning a medal,” Camara said.

Guinea play Iran in their opener at the Nehru Stadium, Fatorda, on Saturday. Costa Rica are up next on October 10 followed by a trip to Kochi to take on Germany on October 13.

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