By: Baboucarr Fallaboweh, TAT Sports Editor
Coach Tom Sainfeit deployed two wingers and two strikers as he defeated Mali by a lone goal in a 2023 AFCON Group G qualifier in Morocco on Tuesday, March 27th, 2023.
The formation gave freedom to Musa Barrow and Assan Ceesay to play to their full strength. Tom made three changes, Hamza Barry, Alieu Fadera, and Ali Sowe came in to replace Dawda Ngum, Saidy Janko, and Ablie Jallow, respectively.
7 Baboucarr Gaye
In Tom’s style of play, the Pivotal goalie occasionally assumed a sweeper role. Still, Gaye didn’t have a busy shift compared to the first leg despite remaining alert and communicating well.
9 Omar Colley
Put on alert with the offensive threat of Malians and read the game well. Colley Won five duels and made four clearances while rising to the occasion with composure and leadership. A perfect header between two defenders gave the goalkeeper no chance for the winner.
7 Ibou Touray and Noah Sonko
Noah had a more busy shift than Ibou Touray; his timing was perfect, and he made some excellent blocks. The duo had lots of support from their wings in tracking back. Touray made 11 recoveries.
6 Buba Sanneh
He still lacks pace, but his sheer experience was unique. Buba put in bodies when needed and had a couple of blocks. But, unfortunately, he gave away a dangerous free kick that hit the woodwork.
8.5 Alasana Manneh
Manneh played a double role, including going forward and shielding the defense whenever the eagles had a counter. He had patience in retrieving the Eagles’ loose balls. He complimented Hamza with great passes and remained dominant in the midfield.
8 Musa Barrow
Assan provided the team’s first attempt on goal, and Barrow earned a free kick after he was brought down. Unfortunately, the resulting free kick from the right-hand side went straight to the goalkeeper. However, the skipper managed three shots on target the scorpions had, and Barrow contributed two with some trademark crosses as he targeted Assan in the 67th minute.
8.5 Ali Sowe
Sowe held on to the ball very well and was pressing up high. Unfortunately, Ali had a goal ruled for offside, and his header went inches from goal in the 45+3 minutes. However, he formed a great triangle pressing with Assan and Musa Barrow. He also closed down on the left, with Musa doing the same on the right.
8 Assan Ceesay
He tirelessly sacrificed himself for the team, made some brilliant runs, and tried taking on opponents. Track-back efficiently.
7.5 Hamza Barry
He commanded the midfield and had an eye for a wide range of passes. The Gambia registered 75% pass accuracy, with Hamza making considerable contributions.
7 Alieu Fadera
Tom had two options to choose from, and it was either Ebrima Colley or Ablie Jallow.
The Zulte Waregem left winger was given the nod. He was known for his attacking power and tracking back, which helped Ibou Touray.
7 Ebrima Colley
Sloppy in the first minutes before providing the assist for the winner. He added lots of quality to the attack when he came on with 55% pass accuracy and won three duels.
7 Ablie Jallow
Coming from the bench, Jallow was an outstanding addition, and Tom got it all right with changes that could have been more predictable.
Ablie replaced Fadera and continued where the latter left, cutting in from the wings and winning the free kick, resulting in the goal.
6 Abdoulie Sanyang and Sainey Njie
Bamba replaced Hamza in the 76th minute, while Njie replaced Assan to add fresh legs and protect the defense.
Sanyang just like Ebrima Colley and Ablie Jallow was brought in to create and threaten the Malian defense.
The Gambia will return to AFCON action in June when they travel to face South Sudan in the 2nd leg of qualifiers before hosting Congo in September.