By: Bubacarr Fallaboweh
Despite having three points, South Sudan shocked Congo courtesy of Choi Peter and Tito Okello’s goals. The Bright Stars hope to make it to the nation’s cup for the first time. The 2021 qualifiers saw them finish last after Burkina Faso and Malawi made it to the Nations Cup.
If the Gambia wins and Mali beats Congo, the Scorpions need a point against Congo. The Gambia has the second-best defense in the group conceding three goals in four matches played.
This is the third meeting between the Gambia and South Sudan, with the Scorpions registering two wins, 2-1 and 1-0, respectively.
South Sudan v Gambia will be played at Suez Canal Authority Stadium on Wednesday, 14th June. Kickoff is 13.00 GMT.
Tom Saintfiet will probably go with a flat four, Jacob Mendy making his debut. The Belgian coach has his midfield duo of Sulayman Marreh and Ebou Adams, who have a combined 41 appearances. Marreh, who plays in KAA Gent, missed the Mali double tie while Adams was injured throughout the season.
Newcastle Utd-bound Yankuba Minteh missed the decisive encounter despite being named to the traveling squad. Tom Saintfiet told the GFF communication department about Minteh’s condition.
“We got information about Yankuba Minteh that he is busy with transfers and think it is not good for him to play because of his slight injury,” Saintfiet stated
This will be a blow, leaving Tom with only two natural wingers in the name of Alieu Fadera and Ebrima Colley. The duo had seven assists each respectively this season. Tom Saintfeit has beefed up his squad for the South Sudan match. Buba Jobe replaces Yankuba Minteh. Jobe has 17 caps with the national team and last featured against Congo. Alagie Saine, one of the best defenders of the young scorpions, got the nod and will be in Egypt.
IFK Göteborg Jesper Ceesay is included in the 23-man squad as he seeks his second cap with the Scorpions replacing suspended Alasana Manneh.
Assan Ceesay is on a goal drought for the Scorpions; he hasn’t found the back of the net in the Gambia’s last six matches, which is set to change. However, Omar Colley’s goal against Mali shows that anyone can score for the Scorpions.
Italian coach Stefano Cusin has been dealt a blow as the trio is suspended for the Scorpions encounter. Peter Choi, who scored the late winner against Congo, Okello Tito, who has scored in his last four matches, and defender Joseph Dhata are all out with two yellow cards. The trio has a combined 44 caps.
David Majak, Ajak Riak, and winger Valentino Yuel are expected to fill the void left by Okello and Choi.
The Bright Stars are athletic, full of energy, and don’t easily bow down; they lack experience but have been together for a long and always had adequate preparation for their matches.
The tiny nation is building its football heritage, having qualified in the AFCON U17 and U20 this year. They play directly, and only a few can match their endurance. They don’t respect their opponent; they don’t sit back but go out entirely to attack.
Tom Saintfiet told the Alkamba Times Sports ahead of South Sudan clash that the game is essential.
“It is an important match naturally; we have to play smart. We need four points in the two games; it depends if Congo Brazzaville wins. You want to win every match as a coach, but it will take work. South Sudan is a good opponent; we are the only team that scored early against them. The other opponent (Mali and Congo) had to wait for long. Naturally, they are very organized. They train long together and are used to the heat regarding the kickoff.
The only thing that matters to me is to qualify, We have tasted the AFCON, and naturally, we want to do everything to qualify again. It can be challenging. Madagascar, Burundi, and South Africa were here in 2019 but didn’t qualify in 2021. We have everything in our own hands. We will like to be in control after the South Sudan game. We completely control our qualifications and do not depend on our opponents. It will be important to get a point against South Sudan,” Saintfiet added.