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Guinea got off to a winning but not convincing start to the Africa Cup of Nations as they drove past Malawi on Monday with a 1-0 victory.
A stylish goal from Issiaga Sylla was enough to seal the points, but they were forced to work hard by a side that played at just the third final in their history.
In fact, it was Malawi who had far better of the early chances and would have gone ahead if Yamikani Chester had maintained his composition and then kept his feet as he twice came through on goal.
Ibrahima Conte hit the post with a header before Sylla broke the deadlock, heading home for the first time after Jose Kante was found by a good ball from Liverpool’s Naby Keita.
Experienced Guinea goalkeeper Aly Keita was asked to deny Malawi captain Limbikani Mzava and Peter Banda before the break, as Malawi, ranked 129th in the world and not even able to name a full replacement bench, continued to threaten.
Guinea took greater control in the second half with a lack of chances as they took a positive step towards qualifying from Group B.
But the level of their performance did little to contradict the 2.28 per cent chance of winning the tournament that Opta’s prediction tool gave them before kick-off, and coach Kaba Diawara will hope for better when they face Senegal on Friday.