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Guinea hold off scrappy Malawi for victory in Bafoussam

Malawi provided a stiff challenge but Issiaga Sylla’s first half goal stood as the winner in Guinea’s 1-0 victory over the Flames in Group B action at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations. The Toulouse left back got into the Malawian penalty area and was there to apply a first time finish to José Kanté’s cross and move the Syli Nationale level with Senegal at the top of Group B.

This was a match that many expected Guinea to win comfortably. Numerous members of the Malawi squad were unavailable due to Covid-19 including key players Charles Petro and Gabadinho Mhango. However, the Flames played with nothing to lose and were quite the threat on the break in the first half. A disastrous giveaway by Guinean center back Mohamed Ali Camara gifted Malawi forward Yamikani Chester with a 1-on-1 opportunity, but the ball bounced up as he attempted to strike and bounced tamely to Guinea keeper Aly Keita.

The eventful first half continued and Guinea came close in the 23rd minute when Ibrahima Kante headed a corner kick that rebounded off the foot of the post. Eventually an incisive move broke down the Flames defense in the 35th minute. Naby Keïta did well orchestrating the Guinean attack and a brilliantly struck pass set up Kanté with room in the penalty area. Kanté made it to the end line and was able to pick out left back Sylla, who made an excellent underlapping run to meet the cross and finish from close range past Malawi keeper Ernest Kakhobwe.

From then on the teams traded chances throughout the match until the later stages. Malawi midfielder Peter Banda collected a ball and unleashed a curling shot from 25 yards out that required Aly Keita’s intervention. Kakhobwe had to come up big for Malawi just before halftime when he saved two close range shots from Aguibou Camara in quick succession. Malawi’s best chance to equalize came in the 67th minute, but substitute striker Richard Mbulu’s shot was too weak after he was sent in for a 1-on-1 chance. Guinea held off for the remainder of the match but Malawi can take plenty of positives.

Highlights of the match are below. Guinea are set for a showdown against group favorites in the next match while Malawi hope to earn their first points against Zimbabwe.

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