Preview: Gambia plays as guests to Mali in an epic clash

The Scorpions

By: Bubacarr Fallaboweh

Gambia hopes for a good result after only collecting three out of the six available points in the two matches played in the AFCON 2023 qualifiers.

Mali under Eric Sékou Chelle is flying high after amassing six points in their first two matches. They finished on top of their 2021 AFCON qualifier with 13 points and aimed to repeat the feat.

The Eagles have scored seven goals in the AFCON qualifiers, with only Nigeria (12) scoring more.

Tom Saintfiet, leading the Gambia to their 37th official match, will be without Al Ahli winger Modou Barrow and Boavista inform striker Yusupha Njie due to illness and injury, respectively.

The big news for the scorpions is the return of Hamza Barry, Alasana Manneh & Ali Sowe. However, while Malian coach Chelle has named six uncapped players for the qualifiers, Tom has only two named Alfusainey Jatta and Marian Sarr.

The scorpions will take on Mali for the double-tie first outing on Friday, whereas the second leg will be on the 28th of March in Morroco.

The two teams met in Afcon 2021 with the result ending 1-1, their second stalemate in their last three encounters.

There have been 19 previous clashes between the sides, with Mali winning on eight occasions and losing to Gambia six times.

The Eagles will miss star midfielder Yves Bissouma(injured) and striker Ibrahima Kone, who was suspended for the tie. He has 11 goals in 14 appearances with the Eagles.

Adama Traore and the return of Sochaux Left Wing Moussa Doumbia will share the goalscoring responsibility. RB Leipzig star Amadou Haidara will be pivotal for the Eagles in the midfield alongside Aliou Dieng (Al Ahly) & Crystal Palace Cheik Oumar Doucoure.

On the part of Gambia, Assan Ceesay hopes to end his goal drought with the Scorpions. He is bent on finding the net in the doubleheader.

Assan Ceesay

Ablie Jallow remains a threat; his absence was felt in the scorpions’ quarter-final loss to Cameroon during the 2021 AFCON. The Metz player scored the lone goal against South Sudan and was instrumental in the Gambian campaign in Cameroon.


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