Group B: Can debutants prove a point?

Author: Bernard Neequaye
John Obi Mikel - Nigeria's captain

In Group B of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament, Nigeria faces a stern test from Guinea, Madagascar and Burundi in their bid to win a second continental title in six years.

The group remains one of the keenly contested, with underdogs Burundi and Madagascar set to make a significant impact at this year’s tournament.

The Super Eagles of Nigeria are hopeful of marking their 18th appearance at the tournament with a splendid performance which will see them challenge for the trophy.

Guinea, alias Syli Nationale, is set to make their 12th appearance and hope to finish the group on a high note, having failed to leave a remarkable mark in previous tournaments.

However, debutants Madagascar and Burundi could only hope to prove a point on their first ever continental campaign with so much to learn.

Road to Egypt

Nigeria won their qualifying group by finishing top of Group E with 13 points, while second-placed South Africa ended up with 12 points.

Guinea on the other hand topped Group H during their qualifiers with 12 points while Madagascar and Burundi both finished as runners-up in Group A and C of their qualifying matches.

AFCON History

Nigeria has won the AFCON title on three occasions, in 1980, 1994 and 2013, and winning this year’s trophy will make them four-time champions in their 18th appearance.

The Super Eagles finished second in 1984, 1988, 1990 and 2000 as well as winning bronze in 1976, 1978, 1992, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2010.

The Syli Nationale of Guinea are yet to win the competition despite participating in 11 editions, with their best performance being a second-place finish in 1976.

Madagascar and Burundi on the other hand will be making their debut appearances, and as such are yet to announce themselves to the continent.

Key Players

Nigeria will rely on inspirational captain Mikel Obi to lead the team once again to continental glory after winning the 2013 tournament.

He will be assisted by the likes of Ahmed Musa, Alex Iwobi and Odion Ighalo, among others.

Guinea will hope Liverpool midfielder, Naby Keita, is fully fit to lead the team to make a significant impact at the tournament.

However, Stoke City forward, Sadio Berahino, is expected to make a mark with Burundi while Madagascar will hope skipper Faneva Ima Andriatsima leads them to leave a mark .

Coach

Nigeria: Gernot Rohr

Guinea: Paul Put

Madagascar: Nicolas Dupuis

Burundi: Olivier Niyungeko

Prediction

Nigeria and Guinea stand tall in Group B despite Burundi and Madagascar’s commitment to ensuring they cause an upset.
It will, however, be a tall order for the two debutants to qualify at the expense of their opponents.