Game of identity at U20 Afcon: Gambia trash Zambia to book a place in the Quarterfinals

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By: Foday Manneh

On what was the perfect day to identify that the two countries are not the same, the Gambia triumphed 2-0 over Zambia in the Total Energies AFCON U20 courtesy of goals from Kajally Drammeh and Alagie Saine each.

The Gambia in West Africa has been primarily seen by many, especially in the football world, as “Zambia,” which is in the Southern part of the continent. This could be attributed to the latter having been a more regular participant in footballing competitions —within Africa and beyond- than the nation coming from the West.

However, here comes the day when the two countries logged horns for the first time in the African youth football competition, with just the G and Z making the difference between the names. And it has to be the country named “Scorpions” that stands out in the contest.

The first half of the game has seen the Gambia being so wasteful with their chances — going very close to finding the breakthrough on multiple occasions (8 times) against the young Zambians- but there was nothing to separate the two teams going into the break.

Minutes after the second period began, the young Scorpions coach Abdoulie Bojang brought on fresh legs in Muhammed Sawaneh and Modou Lamin Marong to help break the deadlock for his side.

In the 63rd minute, Steve Biko boy Adama Bojang made a struggling effort with a long ball from the goalkeeper Pa Ebou Dampha to place a pass for Kajally Drammeh in the opponent’s box. The Cape Town City FC young star also took the tap-in in a tight space to give The Gambia a 1-0 lead.

Nineteen minutes later, substitute Modou Lamin Marong won a penalty after making an overlapped run between two Zambian defenders before being forced down by goalkeeper Jeban Tembo for a penalty later converted by captain Alagie Saine — scoring his second of the tournament to decide the scores at 2-0.

Alagie Saine of Gambia celebrates a goal with teammates during the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations U20 match between Zambia and Gambia at Haras Elhodoud Club Stadium, Alexandria on 24 February 2023 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix.

The young scorpions of the Gambia are now through to the quarterfinal of the U20 African Cup of Nations for the very third time in a row after that win over a nation that could be called their twins due to the name Zambia. They shall remain far from each other on the map.

Reacting to the win, Coach Abdoulie Bojang did not rule out celebrating Friday’s victory but said it is not the focus for now.

“We will celebrate the win, but just for tonight. We cannot be too excited because we are not yet done with our mission here,” Bojang told GFF media.

“We have a complete team, and much tactical work has been done to prepare everyone to compete. However, we take it game by game,” he added.

Team Gambia: Pa Ebou Dampha (GK), Sainey Sanyang, Alagie Saine (82’ goal), Mahmudu Bayo (Momodou Salieu Jallow 90’), Kajally Drammeh (Ba Lamin Sowe 74’), Haruna Rasid Njie, Moses Jarju, Bakary Jawara, Alieu Gibba (Muhammed Sawaneh 52’), Ebrima Singhateh (Modou Lamin Marong 52’), and Adama Bojang (Mamin Sanyang 74’). 

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