Nine new players have been named by Guinea Bissau in a preliminary squad of 35 for next month’s Africa Cup of Nations in a bid to boost their chances of continuing their fairytale run in Gabon.
They include former Everton starlet Francisco Junior who is now based in Norway, and a former Portuguese youth international called Pele.
The small West African country, who will make their debut in Gabon, are the first of the 16 participants to announce a shortlist for the finals.
They will play the opening match against the hosts in Libreville on 14 January having eliminated two former champions – Congo Brazzaville and Zambia – in the qualifiers and despite a lack of cash for preparations
Guinea Bissau’s coach Baciro Cande has picked a squad entirely made up of players based in Europe, including some without clubs, and while many of the newcomers will strengthen the team, he has not been able to add others – including Barcelona’s Edgar le and the Leeds United teenager Ronald Vieria.
Among the newcomers are striker Yazalde from Rio Ave, a regular in the top flight in Portugal for more than a decade, and midfielder Judilson Mamadu Tuncará Gomes, otherwise known as Pele, who played for Portugal at the U-20 World Cup in 2011. He is back at Benfica after a loan spell at Pacos Ferreira last season.
Francisco Junior is another ex-junior Portuguese international who arrived at Everton in 2012 after being snatched from Benfica’s academy but in four years managed only 45 minutes in the first team.
But hopes of enticing more players to play for “Djurtus’ looked to have not succeeded. Not named are players with roots in Guinea Bissau competing in the top flight in Portugal like Gerso Fernandez (Belenenses), Tomas Dabo and Sancidino Silva (Arouca) and Cafu, who moved to French Ligue 1 club Lorient but was a junior at Benfica.
Left out of the pre-selection were Amildo Balde, the former Celtic striker now at Maritimo, and Crawley Town’s midfielder Aliu Kaby Djalo, formerly on the books of Chelsea.
No plans have yet been announced for pre-tournament preparations.
Guinea Bissau squad:
Goalkeepers: Papa Masse Mbaye Fall (CD Orellana Costa Dulce, Spain), Jonas Mendes (Salgueiros, Portugal), Edouard Mendy (Stade Reims, France)
Defenders: Balde (Sporting Lisbon B, Portugal), Mamadu Cande (Tondela, Portugal), Eliseu Cassama (Rio Ave, Portugal), Eridson (Freamunde, Portugal), Emmanuel Mendy (unattached), Formose Mendy (Red Star, France), Rudinilson Silva (unattached), Agostinho Soares (Sporting Covilha, Portugal), Juary Soares (Mafra, Portugal),
Midfielders: Abudu (Operário Lagoa, Portugal), Bocundji Cá (unattached), Francisco Júnior (Stromsgodset, Norway), Jean Paul Mendy (US Quevilly-Rouen, France), Naní (Felgueiras, Portugal), Pele (Benfica B, Portugal), Zezinho (Levadiakos, Greece)
Strikers: Aldair (Olhanense, Portugal), Abel Camara (Belenenses, Portugal), Idrissa Camara (Avellino, Italy), Cícero (Pacos Ferreira, Portugal), Edelino Ié (Sporting Braga B, Portugal), Guti Almada (Real Quelez, Portugal), João Mário (Chaves, Portugal), Fredric Mendy (Ulsan Hyundai, South Korea), Mesca (AEL Limassol, Cyprus), Piqueti (Sporting Braga B, Portugal), Bruno Preira (Colomiers, France), Sami (Akhisar, Turkey) Sana (Academica Viseu, Portugal), Toni Silva (Levadiakos, Greece), Yazalde (Rio Ave, Portugal), Ze Turbo (Tondela, Portugal).