Confederation of African Football (Giza)
24 January 2012
Guinea veteran player Diabobo 'Bobo' Balde told Cafonline.com after watching the opening day matches of Orange Africa Cup of Nations in particular Zambia's win over Senegal he and his team-mates are not going to take any team lightly.
"This feels like a tournament of surprises and no-one should go into any game thinking victory is guaranteed. Balde is playing in his fourth Cup of Nations and the big tough tackling defender says Guinea's goal at the finals this year is to go one place better.
"We have left the previous competition at quarter final stage and we want to at least make the semi-final this time round. In 2004 we went out to Mali, in 2006 it was Senegal who knocked us out and then we lost to Ivory Coast in 2008 and a realistic goal for us is to reach semis but of course we start this tournament ready and eager to win the cup." Said Balde.
Balde told Cafonline.com he is impressed with the facility at Moanda Hotel Complex in Moanda at which Guinea is housed for the competition. "This complex is fantastic and all encompassing we have everything a team needs here and we are normally in hotels when we play in finals but here we are in a complex far away from anything else and this helps in bonding and concentrating on preparations. The only downside is that it is far from the Franceville stadium almost an hour's drive.
Balde also told Cafonline.com that he scored twice during the qualifiers and he is quietly hoping for his first goal at the finals. The big defender's trade mark runs up for corner kicks and set pieces saw him knock in two headers during Guinea's journey to the finals. The 35 year old defender admits that it will be tough fight for the two top places in Group D but he is confident the team will rise to the challenge.
As for the Moanda Hotel Complex which was specifically built for the Africa Cup of Nations, Balde said he hopes it will be turned into some sport academy and opened up for the local sports populace to develop sport talent.
"It is such a beautiful installation and l am sure a lot of money has been spent on it and l really hope it will be kept this way and functional after this competition, l am sure the Gabonese government will see to this.
With another Africa Cup of Nations coming up next year, 2013 in South Africa Bobo Balde would not be committal about playing at his 5th final. "For now l am just happy to be playing my football and my body is still fit and l'm enjoying playing so that how l will take it and l will not look too far ahead but focus on now" concluded Balde.
Mali will be a tough opponents and it won't be an easy game for both teams. Of course we got confidence from emerging top from a tough group in the qualifiers that included continental giants Nigeria and that momentum will carry us through but as has been shown already in this tournament you cannot allow yourselves to take anything for granted.
]This is a new competition and nothing we achieved in the past is going to intimidate other teams, they too have had to overcome some big names to be here" said Balde
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