Guinea will rely on a Canada-based Lass Bangoura as their belated joker to shake Nigeria in their second group match at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations, following his late inclusion in their squad to Egypt 2019.
Bangoura got a pretty late call-up in pace of injured Baissama Sankoh, after the 27-year-old was pronounced unfit for the tournament following an injury he sustained during Syli National’s friendly against Egypt on Sunday.
Guinea lost the game 2-1, to send their fans into worries, ahead of their kick-off against Madagascar and second fixture with Nigeria on June 26, with the exit of Sankoh, who plays for French club Caen, adding to their fears, but he has now been replaced by Bangoura.
The 27-year-old late invitee, who plays for Vancouver Whitecaps in USA’s Major League Soccer (MLS), did not waste time in taking up the opportunity to fill in with his national team, as he touched down in Egypt on Wednesday and should settle down well before their first fixture.
Bangoura, who can play down the right flank, on the left or as a support striker, joined Whitecaps from Rayo Vallecano of Spain, who spotted him in 2010, at the age of 18, while playing in his native Guinea.
He joined their youth side and scored 23 goals in 25 games, during which he was so impressive that Vallecano promoted him straight to their first team, with an accelerated elevation from their B-side, for which he made only four appearances.
Real Madrid also reportedly made an approach to buy him but Vallecano rejected the offer from Los Blancos.
In the 2011/12 season Bangoura played 28 times, with three goals and four assists, which he maintained in the following camapign, with three goals and five assists, but he did not score at all in the 2013/14 season.
In the 2014/15 season, he was loaned to La Liga rivals, Granada, for which he scored on his debut in Copa del Rey, but only had two assists in the league play, as he was mostly used as a sub.
In 2015/16 he returned to Vallecano, scoring twice in the Cup but only registering two assists in league play, mostly from the bench.
A citation from his Vancouver-based MLS club stated: “He has the pace to get up and down the wing, is a good dribbler, and puts in a decent cross.
“He is also fairly responsible defensively, making about 1 tackle and 1 interception per game on average over his career. He has a decent long range shot in his locker as well.”
However, the amazing additional information that would worry Guinean dfans is that Bangoura, a former Reims of France player, had also been nursing a thigh injury, but was cleared for action by his club last week.
Guinea will open their AFCON campaign against Madagascar on Saturday in Group B before clashes with Nigeria and Burundi; as the team that stopped the Eagles from qualifying in 2012, go for their 12th AFCON, the second highest behind only Senegal (15) without ever winning the title.