AFCON 2023: Djurtus’ arrival sparks excitement as Guinea-Bissau dream big


As the sun dipped below the horizon, casting an orange glow across Abidjan’s Félix Houphouët-Boigny Airport, Guinea-Bissau’s national football team, known as the Djurtus, arrived with aspirations that echoed beyond the airport’s runway.

Coach Baciro Candé, the 56-year-old veteran mentor, led his team into the vibrant heart of Cote d’Ivoire on Sunday, setting the stage for their fourth appearance at the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations.

As the Djurtus disembarked, they were met with a traditional Ivorian welcome, a rhythmic symphony of drums and jubilant dancing. Dozens of their compatriots, draped in the national colors, had gathered to welcome their heroes, creating an atmosphere of camaraderie and anticipation.

Drawn into the formidable Group A alongside football powerhouses Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, and Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau faces an uphill battle to secure a spot in the knockout stages.

 However, Coach Candé, the architect of Guinea-Bissau’s qualification for the 2017 edition, exuded confidence and determination upon their arrival.

In an interview with, Candé revealed the Djurtus’ ambitious target: to break new ground by advancing past the first round. “Our goal is to finally get past the first round. It’s true that our group is very tough…but anything is possible in football, anything is possible,” declared the coach.

Their journey begins with a monumental clash against the host nation, Côte d’Ivoire, in the opening match at the Alassane Ouattara Olympic Stadium in Ebimpe on Saturday

Reflecting on his previous experience leading Guinea-Bissau in the opening game of the 2017 edition, Candé expressed his familiarity with the challenge. “I’m used to it; the first competition I participated in, we played the opening match against Gabon, and we drew (1-1). I know that Côte d’Ivoire is stronger than Gabon, but Guinea-Bissau will do its job, slowly,” he assured. Beyond the opening spectacle, the Djurtus face Equatorial Guinea on January 18 and conclude the group stage against Nigeria on January 22. With eyes set on the knockout stages, Guinea-Bissau’s football journey in Cote d’Ivoire promises to be a test of resilience and determination, with the echoes of a nation rallying behind its team in pursuit of glory.

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