2026 WC Qualifier: Gambian coach Saintfiet seeks at least a point against Elephants.



By Baboucarr Fallaboweh

Gambia head coach Tom Saintfiet is looking forward to get at least a draw when his charges welcome Ivory Coast on Monday in a 2026 FIFA World Cup Group F match day Two game.

The Elephants are seeking what would be their fourth World Cup appearance and they got off to a bright start by humiliating minnows Seychelles 9-0 on match day one at the Alasaane Stadium in Ebimpe.


 “We have watched and analyzed Ivory Coast’s 9-0 win over Seychelles, they showed a lot of quality despite resting some of their players. We have a plan and I’m very satisfied with Saturday’s training, the level was so high, and it pleases me to see the players sticking to the tactical discipline.” The Belgian tactician indicated.

“We know that Ivory Coast is the toughest task in the group, but in the past, we have proven ourselves against Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, and Mali. I have never heard that a team is dead after one defeat. You are dead when you have no chance to qualify. We must be careful not to take too many defeats, and if we take one point against Ivory Coast, I will be very satisfied. Let’s see if we can play at home against Kenya, Burundi, Gabon, and Seychelles.”

Tom asks fans to lower expectations.  

“Sometimes it’s good to lose your first match because it makes everyone stand his feet. If people must compare us with top Africans, then they must start reading. We don’t have top players playing in European top leagues, we were the favourites against Burundi, and we lost, Ivory Coast is the clear favourites.”

Tom who watched his first Cup de Mondial in 1982 as a nine year will ring in changes on Monday with Baboucarr Gaye expected back between the sticks in a 3-5-2 formation. The midfield is likely to be in a triangular form with Ablie Jallow playing as a number 8. The 3-5-2 formation gives you a good defensive and offensive shape with debutant Jakob Mendy and Muhammed Sanneh operating as wing backs. 


Bakary Sanneh´s predictable starting XI

The Ivorian before their 9-0 win played a 1-1 draw against Morocco and South Africa, with Sébastien Haller who scored the opener scoring in both matches. Apart from Algeria and Senegal beating Ivory Coast, Zambia handed them a 3-0 defeat in the AFCON Qualifiers. 


The Elephants used a 4-3-3 or 3-5-2 formation with a well-drilled side who are playing in the Premier League, Ligue1, Ligue2, German Bundesliga and the rest of Europe. They have a very solid midfielders in Franck Kessie and Seko Fofana. Jean Michael Seri and Ibrahim Sangare are other options in the midfield. 

Ivory Coast prevailed 3 goals to 1 in their most recent encounter. 


Matches: 2 

Gambia: 0 

Draw: 0 

Ivory Coast: 2 

Kick-Off: Monday, november 20, 2023, 4:00 PM (GMT) 

Stadium: Benjamin Mkapa National Stadium, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. 


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Baboucarr Fallaboweh
Baboucarr Fallaboweh Sports Editor (Buba Jallow Fallaboweh) is a Gambian football expert, football analyst & columnist. The Stockholm-based Journalist is a media officer, football Scout, PR, Influencer and Digital creator. I started my journalism career as a football analyst in 2012 with Vibes FM and went on to work with CityLimit, West Coast, Hot FM, Freedom Radio, Eye Africa and Afri Radio as a content producer and presenter. In 2013, I attended Football Daily on the BBC SPORTS where we discussed the different styles of Football played in Africa. I Went on to freelance for The Point Newspaper, Freedom Newspaper, Daily Observer and Standard Newspaper before being appointed as Sports Editor with the Alkamba Times in March 2022.  I have worked for Magazines like Glo Magazine and Foot54 covering Gambian football and African Football.   Between 2020 -2021 I worked as a scout for the Gambia Football Federation, scouting talents for the U17 &U20.  From 2017 to 2021, I served as Media officer for GFF First division teams Team Rhino and Marimoo and also as media Officer of Banjul FC, fourth Division tier in Sweden and Darboe’s FC (Female second division club in the Gambia). I served as a PR for Superstars Academy.   With Afrencon, I was a data analyst before I joined LightHouse as a head scout for the Gambia project. In organizational structures, I served as the ambassador of the John Bass Kidney Foundation and one of the founders of the foundation creating kidney awareness in the Gambia.   I also served two positions in the Gambian organization in Sweden, as Sports chairman and the secretary of the associations.   After 12 years of being a football journalist, I was named 3rd best sports column writer in Africa year 2021 by the reputable sports media organization AIPS. I finished in the top 35 in the world with my article titled Back way: Gambian footballers in deadly Voyage to Europe.   With over 500 articles and interviews, analysis, profiling, features and news, I was shortlisted for the Gambia Press Union National Journalist Award 2022. I submitted the article which was co-written alongside Momodou Bah From Living Through Despair to Being An Agent Of Hope, The Inspiring Story Of John Bass.   I have served as an advisers to Football academies, clubs, and players and others. I have hosted dozens of shows and was invited as a guest on both radio, TV and the online press. I also covered the Gambia's maiden AFCON debut in 2021 in Cameroon.  


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