Zinho Gano, the prolific striker from Zulte Waregem in Belgium, is gearing up for his TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations debut with Guinea-Bissau, carrying the hopes of the nation on his shoulders.
As the top scorer for Guinea-Bissau during the Côte d’Ivoire 2023 qualifiers with an impressive tally of four goals, Gano is eager to make a significant impact in the tournament.
The “Djurtus” find themselves in a challenging Group A alongside hosts Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, and Equatorial Guinea. Despite the formidable opponents, Gano remains optimistic about their chances to progress beyond the group stage.
Speaking ahead of their opening match at the Stade Olympique Alassane Ouattara in Ebimpe on January 13, the 30-year-old shared his thoughts on various aspects of the tournament.
Reflecting on the journey from Bissau to Abidjan, Gano mentioned the fatigue from the long trip but highlighted the importance of arriving safely. He expressed satisfaction with the warm reception they received at the airport and the hotel.
Describing the atmosphere within the team, Gano emphasized the positive working environment and expressed hope for it to continue. As a player, he sees the TotalEnergies CAF AFCON as a proud moment and a great platform to showcase individual talent.
Gano acknowledged the honor of playing the opening match against the organizing country, Cote d’Ivoire. Contrary to feeling pressure, he considers it a special opportunity, anticipating a massive crowd of at least 60,000 spectators. The striker, with a professional mindset, looks forward to such high-stakes matches.
When discussing Guinea-Bissau’s historical struggles to advance past the group stage, Gano set ambitious goals for the team in this edition. He aims to secure their first victory in AFCON and surpass the initial stage, despite being placed in a challenging group with powerhouses like Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria.
Gano sees the competition as a chance for Guinea-Bissau to prove their worth against more prominent football nations. Undeterred by the formidable opponents in their group, he believes they have a strong squad and are ready to make an impact.
As Guinea-Bissau’s top scorer in the qualifiers, Gano hopes to continue his goal-scoring form in the tournament. He expressed a specific desire to score in the opening match against Cote d’Ivoire, considering it a great achievement.
When asked about the possibility of finishing as the top scorer in the competition, Gano didn’t rule out the idea, citing the unpredictable nature of football. He expressed his excitement at the prospect, emphasizing that anything is possible in the beautiful game.
As Gano and his teammates prepare for the tournament, he conveyed a message to the Guinea-Bissau public, urging them to support the team wholeheartedly.
He emphasized the players’ commitment to giving their all on the field, hoping to make the nation proud in the TotalEnergies CAF AFCON 2023.