By: Foday Manneh
The ultimate game of the 2023 edition of the TotalEnergies AFCON — U20 is set for tomorrow, Saturday, March 11, as neighbors and fierce rivals The Gambia and Senegal set to lock horns in the Egyptian capital of Cairo.
This final’s encounter will be the second time the two nations’ youth teams meet in the space of 5 months after their previous meeting in the WAFU Zone A championship final that showed Senegal came victorious with a goal to nil.
The last five meetings of the two teams showed Senegal winning 3 of those matches, drawing once and losing another against The Gambia.
Both teams are heading to Saturday’s final with a perfect record of winning all three group-stage games before maintaining their favorite dominance against opponents in the quarter and semi-finals without conceding a single goal while scoring more than ten others.
Senegal has won all the CAF competitions they have played in since January 2022; AFCON, CAF Beach Soccer, and CHAN 2023 beating every opponent in the finals.
A win for the young scorpions means The Gambia will become the first country to end Senegal’s good run of progress in the continent since January 2022.
The individual awards of this continental youth showpiece could be a competition between the players of the two finalists as favorites. Scorpions Adama Bojang, with four goals, will be pushing to catch on to Pape Demba Diop (5) of the young Terangas on the top scorer award, while Pa Ebou Dampha will challenge Landing Badjie to the Best Goalkeeper prize.
Tactical Change: Who is the possible replacement for Haruna Rashid Njie?
Gunjur United’s hard-tackling young midfielder, Haruna Rashid Njie, picked up two yellow cards in the final against Nigeria, which led to his sent-off, making him unavailable for the game that could be historical for his country’s football.
Haruna played in all five games for the young scorpions in this tournament. However, he came as a substitute once in their 2-0 final group against Benin, which showed coach Abdoulie Bojang making ten changes to his regular starting lineup after confirming his progress to the knockout stages just after his first two games.
With his absence, the Man of the Match winner of the above-said game, Salifu Colley, could be the possible replacement for Haruna — attributing to his performance in that game against the Beninese.
Coach Abdoulie Bojang’s Comments
“It is the most important match in our lives. The whole country is behind the team, so we want to give everything to win the game, set our records, and present the nation with something from the continent.”
Predicted Starting Lineup.
Whether Salifu would be selected to start or not, Coach Abdoulie Bojang’s starting lineup ahead of this game may not be surprising to many, who will more or less predict that his favorite XI would be maintained and that is;
Pa Ebou Dampha
Alagie Saine (C)