In this article, I will be reviewing the Africa Cup of Nations of former-Wigan player, Francisco Junior. The central midfielder was representing his nation, Guinea-Bissau.
Junior, who has represented Portugal at Under-19 and Under-21 level in the past, made his debut for Guinea-Bissau against the host nation, Gabon in a 1-1 draw in the African Cup Of Nations.
Guinea-Bissau didn’t pick up a win in their group, losing to Cameroon, Burkina Faso but they did manage to claim a famous point against hosts Gabon in their opening game.
Francisco currently plays for Strømsgodset and, in the past, played for Everton from 2012-2016, going on loan to Vitesse Arnhem, Strømsgodset, Port Vale and Wigan Athletic in that time as well. Junior never made a first-team appearance for the Toffees but did play a lot for the youth team.
In the first game against Gabon, Junior played very well before being substituted in the 74th minute. This tournament was always going to be difficult for Junior considering he had never played for Guinea-Bissau before this and given his nation were such underdogs, this being their first-ever international tournament.
The second game for Junior was against much harder opposition, Cameroon. Francisco managed to play the whole 90 minutes. Guinea-Bissau looked to have some hope after Brito Silva put them ahead after 13 minutes but goals from Siani and Ngadeu-Ngadjui made it a loss for Guinea-Bissau. It was unfortunate because they played well but were just edged out by the extra quality on the day.
Finally, the final group stage game came up, it was a great chance for Guinea-Bissau to secure themselves a place in the quater-finals of the tournament. However, Junior didn’t have a very good game up to the 75th minute, when he got subbed off. Guinea-Bissau lost 2-0 to Burkina Faso, which knocked Junior and Guinea-Bissau out of the tournament.
In my opinion, Junior had a decent tournament, getting a good amount of minutes each game.
Francisco is still young and has a lot to show. Hopefully, he comes back to England one day.
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David – @DCurtyy – Football Writer