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Preview: Sierra Leone vs. Equatorial Guinea

Group E has been the most fascinating group at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations with Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea shaking things up by performing well against group favorites Algeria and Ivory Coast, and now the two underdogs face off on Thursday with qualification for the knockout stages as the objective. Sierra Leone did fantastically to draw against the two African titans but will likely need a win to move on to the Round of 16. Equatorial Guinea pulled off the shock of the competition by defeating Algeria and will look for a draw or victory to book their ticket out of the group.

The Leone Stars’ run has been magical but they are not out of Group E yet. Team spirit in the squad has been unmatched in Cameroon with the entire nation watching with eager anticipation, something that center back Steven Caulker cited as what keeps the team going. Manager John Keister described what the country has gone through since the last time Sierra Leone qualified for the AFCON in 1996 with civil war and an Ebola outbreak just a couple of the maladies in the West African nation. Keister described facing Equatorial Guinea as the most difficult match because now Sierra Leone will be playing with the expectation of winning.

Equatorial Guinea are coming off a history-making victory to end Algeria’s African record unbeaten streak, but like Sierra Leone they will have to deal with the expectation of getting the necessary result to make it into the knockout stages. This is the first AFCON the Nzalang Nacional qualified for after participating as hosts in 2012 and 2015, making 2021 a sign of how far the country’s national team has developed over a decade. Manager Juan Micha stated his intention to keep his team grounded and focused on achieving their objective. A key player who made his return from Covid-19 for the Algeria match, goalkeeper Jesús Owono, performed well and described the joy back home for the team as well as how important bringing recognition for the small country is to the squad.

Links related to the match are below. There were no new Covid-19 absences discovered for either team.

Sierra Leone v Equatorial Guinea – History awaits (CAF Online)
Match Facts – Sierra Leone v Equatorial Guinea (CAF Online)

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