Following a thirty-minute substitute appearance against Madagascar in Guinea’s opening game of the Africa Cup of Nations, Naby Keïta is ready to start game two against Nigeria according to his manager.
“You know he had an injury,” manager Paul Put said. “It was not certain he would participate in the AFCON, [but] he trains at 200% now. I think he is physically ready. If he is mentally ready he will start the game.”
After drawing Madagascar in the opener, a result today is essential and with Guinea’s final game against group trailers Burundi it’s likely getting even a point here would ensure that they advance to the knockouts.
As such, if Keïta is fully match fit—well ahead of schedule given he suffered an adductor injury with a ruptured tendon and wasn’t expected to start training until July—he will be in the starting lineup for Guinea.
Guinea need him. They need at least a point today or they risk second place being decided by who, between them and Madagascar, puts the most goals past Burundi. And without him, they likely don’t have a chance.
“There is a Syli [national team] with Naby Keïta and a Syli without him,” Put added. “We saw that during the preparation when Guinea lost all three games without him.’’