Gambian league Champions Fortune Football Club made a bright start in their maiden CAF Champions League appearance as they defeated two-time winners ES Setif of Algeria 3 – 0 in the first leg of the preliminary qualifiers in Banjul.
Fortune took advantage of a brilliant home crowd to hold the pole position going into the second leg. Ebrima Camara’s first-half goal and two second-half goals from Patrick Sylva and substitute Alieu Barry were enough to put the eight time Algerian champions at the receiving end of a shocking defeat.
In what was a highly attended game at the independence stadium with football supporters turning in numbers to cheer behind the home team, Fortune displayed quality that extends the teams unbeaten run in multiple competitions.
It was a moment for the two teams to put into practice their technical and tactical preparations going into the CAF championship contest.
The visitors’ ES Setif were the better side in the initial proceedings and tried to rely on their technical ability to penetrate the hosts, but Fortune stayed resolute to contain Setif throughout the match.
As the game progressed, the host realised the easiest way to penetrate Setif was to hit them on counter-attacks, and they did just that on the 22nd minute to break the deadlock as Ebrima Camara received a lumped pass from Ebou Sanyang and ran clear through the Setif defence before rolling home from close range to send home supporters into wild celebrations.
That goal helped Fortune to grow in confidence and they started to threaten the visitors with a series of attacks. In the closing stages, going into the break, Fortunes Ebou Sanyang came close but his bold attempt hit the base of the post from close range and the visitors breathed a sigh of relief.
And straight from the break, the visitors nearly cancelled out the deficit as Fortune’s outstanding shot-stoppers Yankuba Sabally denied Setif’s Benayad from close range in a one-on-one situation.
But the visitors were going to fall behind again as Patrick Sylva who has been unimpressive until that moment, fired a thunderous strike into the Setif net on the 59th minute. The winger cut in from the left before unleashing a strike that gave the veteran Sofiane the Setif keeper no chance to make a stop.
That was not going to be the last time the crowd was going to celebrate a Fortune goal. On the 80th minute, Fortune hit another counter-attack as a combination of the two substitutes produced the third goal. Bully Drammeh penetrated through the right channel and set up the deadly Alieu Barry who made a brilliant finish in his debut for Fortune. The crowd was already on their feet celebrating what looked like a certain victory for Fortune.
And soon after, the tactics of coach Jane Joof who was busy on the touchline shouting instructions paid off, as the final whistle followed soon after.
Fortune’s gaffer Jane Joof said they deserved all they got. “We are champions and Setif finished second in their league, so if we should score three against them, we deserve that” he said.
“Is not all over, we going to Algeria for the return leg, we are determined to come back with a positive result. All we need is the continuous support of the country as it is no more Fortune but The Gambia” he added.
It was mission accomplished for Jane Joof and his charges as they shocked the two-time champions in front of a massive home crowd. Can they get the mission done in the return leg with this three-nil win in the first leg? The two will again clash in the return leg on the 19th of September 2021 in Algeria.