Feindouno ban hits Guinea hard

Guinea go into their must-win African Nations Cup game against Namibia on Monday rocked by star player Pascal Feindouno’s two-match ban.

Namibia’s own build-up has been overshadowed to this make or break Group A match by the players’ claims they were offered $30 000 each to throw the game.

They immediately alerted the Namibia football association’s president who is passing the matter on to the Confederation of African Football. For Guinea, Feindouno’s absence is a major headache.

The Saint Etienne striker scored twice in Guinea’s 3-2 upset of Morocco but then blotted his copybook when kicking out at a Morocco player.

That moment of madness cost him a two match ban, and left Guinea searching for solutions to fill the void for a match that if they win could earn them a place in the quarterfinals.

“It’s not going to be easy, he’s a hugely talented player,” Guinea coach Robert Nouzaret said. “I’ll have to find a solution, but there’s no player like him,” added the French-born manager.

“The minute the referee sent him off I thought of the consequences. It’s very important but I’ll just have to find a different format without Pascal.

“We know it’s not going to be easy so we’re not going to take any chances against them.”

Victory will move Guinea on to six points but they still need Ghana to at least draw with Morocco in the other Group A match being played simultaneously in Accra to be sure of their ticket to the knockout stages.

A last eight place will earn the players a $30 000 bonus from their federation.

Nouzaret was thrilled with his players’ reaction after a below par performance in their opening 2-1 loss to Ghana, his team showing what they were made of when holding on to beat Morocco 3-2 despite playing much of the second half with 10 men.

“After our defeat by Ghana I was waiting for a reaction on the technical, physical and mental front and I think we succeeded,” said Nouzaret.

Namibia, despite losing their first two games, are not completely out of the running either, and they looked an altogether more polished outfit in their 1-0 loss to Ghana than that 5-1 drubbing by Morocco.

Namibia coach Arie Schans, reflecting on his side’s progression in Ghana, said: “This was a big difference to our first game when the players’ apppeared nervous.

“This time we showed we could play good football. Now our next goal with a bit of luck will be to pick up three points against Guinea.”

This is only the second time that Namibia have made it to the finals, the first in 1998 proved a chastening experience—the Brave Warriors going home after the first round with just one point.

Their positive showing against Ghana on Thursday will have given them confidence in at least improving on that performance but as Schans pointed out: “We’re here to gain experience ahead of the 2010 World Cup qualifiers.” - AFP

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