By: Foday Manneh
Second-half substitute Hamza Barry scored a 90+6 minute winner to restore the Gambia’s hopes of returning to the AFCON as they beat South Sudan 3-2 in match-day five of the 2023 qualifiers on Wednesday in Ismailia, Egypt.
The Scorpions had a bright start to the match — scoring an earlier goal from Musa Barrow’s free-kick, which was erroneously defended by Angier, who deflected the ball passed his goalkeeper to give the Gambia the lead three minutes into the kickoff.
The goal lasted 21 minutes when Valentino Yuel equalized from a close area. Then, both teams find it tough to regain their moments — creating few chances with numerous shots. They went into the break with level scores, with the Gambia taking the good share of the possession.
The match resumed with a much-improved tone of play from the Scorpions pushing a lot in front in search of a double, but the determined Sudanese side was hopeful of maintaining the scores with an organized defense and a fearless attack.
However, in the 62nd minute, Ablie Jallow restored the Gambia’s lead. The FC Metz attacking midfielder dribbled a crowded defensive line of three to take a slippery shot from close range to make 2-1.
The Scorpions maintained their dominance in the match — hoping to add to their lead or keep their supremacy on the scores but suffered seconds of heartbreak in the 90+1. Peter Chol took a well-timed header from a corner to level matters again.
As the game drew to finishing, the Scorpions went all out in search of the late winner with 5 minutes of the added time left on the clock, and this paid off as Hamza Barry found himself at the right place to slot the ball in from an uncontrollable play to score the winner and his first International goal.
The 3-2 win has boosted the Gambia’s chances of qualifying and moved them to second in Group G with 9 points behind leaders Mali (9) at the time of the report.
The Scorpions need a point in their last group match of the qualifiers to return to the AFCON in Ivory Coast 2024. They will play at home against Congo in September 2023.