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.
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.
Ivory Coast: 2
Kick-Off: Monday, november 20, 2023, 4:00 PM (GMT)
Stadium: Benjamin Mkapa National Stadium, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.