Friday, September 29, 2023

Make or Break: Gambia faces Congo in back-to-back AFCON pursuit

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By: Muhammed Lamin Drammeh

The Scorpions of The Gambia will be facing Congo-Brazzaville today in Marrakech, as they strive to secure a spot in the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations in the Ivory Coast and the outcome of this game will determine whether they will make their second appearance in the AFCON showpiece or not.

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It will be an exciting match to watch, as two Belgian coaches, Tom Sainfeit and Paul Put, battle for supremacy on the touchline.

The Scorpions need only a point to secure a spot in the nation’s cup. A defeat will see Tom Sainfeit’s side finishing third in the group standing, which will disqualify them from their must-needed back-to-back AFCON appearance dream.

Speaking to the media after the final training session in Marrakech, Belgian-born tactician, Tom Sainfeit, said the players are all ready and will do everything to qualify the country for the nation’s cup next year in the Ivory Coast.

Despite the terrifying 6.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the city on Friday night, Tom is optimistic about securing a qualification, noting that he has seen a “hungry squad” that is playing for one another and will do everything to qualify the country.

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“I saw a hungry squad today. We had some problems in the preparation, but now is the time to bounce back. We are a strong team with a lot of qualities. I respect Congo, but we are ready for this game.

“These are not only good players but those with their hearts in the right spot. We love this country; we love to represent this country, and they [players] will do everything to qualify,” he said.

Tom, who guided the country to its historic maiden appearance in the competition last year in Cameron, said the players have tasted the sweetness of the competition and will want to be there again.

“We tested the sweet tastes of AFCON. No one wanted it more than us. As a team, we are playing for each other and for the fans to get back to AFCON and make you [Gambians] all proud,” Tom stated.

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The Gambia only needs a draw to qualify, so their coach, Belgian Tom Sainfeit, is likely to adopt a defensive and cautious approach in the game. Sainfeit is known for his defensive style of football and is expected to stick to his tactics in this game, as he has in previous games.

Boubacarr Gaye is expected to start in goal to prevent Congo from scoring. Inform captain, Omar Colley will likely be partnered by James Gomez at the back. Ibou Touray, recently, has established himself as the country’s first-choice left-back and he is expected to start. Dawda Ngum and Nuah Sonko will compete for a spot in the right back.

The coach is expected to use more defensive midfielders than attacking players in the team against Congo.

Ebou Adams and Saidou Khan may start the game in the midfield with Ablie Jallow.

Assan Ceesay is expected to lead the attacker as a lone striker with Musa Barrow and Yankuba Minteh or 𝐀lieu Fadera on the wings. Ablie Jallow can also play on the right wing if Hamza Barry starts the game.

In the first leg, Congo defeated the Gambia by a goal to nil. Congo is headed by former Gambia National Team, Paul Put.

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