Alexandria, Tuesday @PeopleSports11
For a Guinea team with growing Africa Cup of Nations ambitions, the return of Naby Keita was a victory in itself after Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp had indicated the midfielder would miss the tournament with injury.
Hurt during the first leg of Liverpool’s Champions League semi-final showdown with Barcelona, Keita spent nearly two months out before making his comeback in the final 30 minutes of Saturday’s 2-2 draw with a plucky Madagascar.
His impact was immediate in Alexandria as Guinea equalised within four minutes of his introduction. “His arrival hurt us, obviously. Guinea are a very good team,” said Madagascar coach Nicolas Dupuis.
Now, with their playmaker back in the side Guinea have the chance to send a message against Nigeria on Wednesday.
“He gives a lot, he’s a leader in his own way. We need him. He helps us benefit from his experience in big matches. It’s a bonus to have him,” forward Sory Kaba, scorer of the first goal against Madagascar, told AFP.
At Liverpool just as here in Egypt, Keita, 24, is again operating in the shadows of club team-mates Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
“There is really no doubt about the boy, he is an outstanding player,” said Klopp, who stumped up 60 million euros ($68 million) to lure him from Leipzig and then thrust him into a starting role at Anfield. -AFP