What an exciting tournament it has been for Gambia in the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon. Gambia came into the tournament as one of two debutants but their performances in the group stage have earned them a spot in the last 16 of the tournament, where they face Guinea.
Guinea finished second in Group B, despite losing their last game in the group stage. Kaba Diawara’s men earned four points in their opening two games against Malawi and Senegal before suffering defeat to Zimbabwe. The Syli Nationals managed just two goals in their games while also conceding two.
Compared to Guinea, Gambia were unbeaten in the group stages of the competition, winning two games and drawing the other. The Scorpions were joined in Group F by Mali, Tunisia and Mauritania – advancing into the knockout stages with the first two.
Gambia are aware the game against Guinea will be quite different compared to the ones they have had to deal with in the group stage. While history has already been made, the Scorpions will love to continue writing a nice fairytale in Cameroon. Tom Saintfiet could forever be in the history books of Gambia should they manage to pull this off.
Guinea are also on a search for their first continental trophy and a win over Gambia could be the beginning of their dreams.
WHERE AND WHEN?
Venue: Kouekong Stadium.
Date: Monday, January 24.
Time: 16:00 GMT.
Toulouse midfielder, Issiaga Sylla played 88 minutes of action against Zimbabwe before being forced off due to an injury. The 28-year-old is a doubt for the round of 16 tie against Gambia. Diawara made changes to his starting line-up in the final group game. However, his strongest team should be available for selection on Monday, January 24. Mohamed Bayo and Josse Kante should return to the starting line-up to face Gambia.
For Saintfiet, there are no injury concerns for him heading into the fixture. However, he will have some selection headache following the performance of some of his fringe players who got the chance to feature in the final group game. Albie Jallow came off the bench to score a last-gasp winner against Tunisia and could be in line for a starting berth.
Considering this is the first-ever appearance at the continental showpiece for Gambia, this match – a knockout game means a lot to them than it means for Guinea. The Scorpions have been the surprise package in the competition and it was quite an interesting feat finishing level on points with Mali while also beating Tunisia to the second spot.
Their fluid attack and compact defence has been key to where they have gotten to in this competition and should they keep their heads cool, a place in the quarter-final could be closer than they imagined.
Guinea have been far from convinced in the three games they have played, although the game against Senegal proved to be deciding moments for them. They have not been able to control games as much as they would like like to since the narrow win over Malawi.
PREMIER LEAGUE PLAYER FEATURE
Premier League fans and Liverpool fans will be keeping an eye on Naby Keita, who has scooped two Man of the Match awards so far in the tournament. The midfield dynamo’s best performance came in the game against his clubmate, Sadio Mane while he also scored his first goal of the tournament in the loss to Zimbabwe. Progressing to the next round means he is not available for Liverpool for at least the next two games.
Guinea: Keita; Cisse, Sow, Conte, Sylla; Moriba, Diawara, Keita; Bayo, Guilavogui.
Gambia: Jobe; Touray, Gomez, Colley, Jagne; Colley, Marreh, Adams, Barrow; Jallow, Ceesay.
Guinea 0-1 Gambia