The second game of Group F gets underway on Wednesday afternoon as Gambia make their Africa Cup of Nations debut.
While the tournament has certainly been enjoyable thus far, it’d be fair to say the goals are yet to come. Only since the opener have we seen more than one goal scored, perhaps indicative of the lack of preparation many teams had due to the Covid pandemic and the fact European teams were able to keep a hold of their players for so long.
Indeed, anyone looking for goals in this one might be disappointed, although Sierra Leone’s shock draw with Algeria does offer some hope of some nice surprises.
It will be fascinating to see how Gambia adapt to life on the grandest stage of African football, while Mauritania will surely look to improve on their 2019 AFCON showing.
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Kamara the key man for Mauritania
Former Fulham striker will lead the line for Mauritania when we eventually get this one underway. Here’s what he’s had to say in the build-up.
“It is a pride for me to defend the colours of Mauritania at this high level,” Kamara said.
“We are prepared to be in tune with high goals. We are focused on the objective, it is to take this team to a new level.
“We have progressed in this transition phase, we have content to look alike. Technically, physically, we are all ready.”
As a result of the chaos in the earlier match, kick-off has been delayed.
We’ll be getting underway now at 16:45 GMT if everything goes to plan from here. 45 minute delay.
Just a few minutes until kick-off…. this Mauritania fan is certainly ready.
Earlier in Group F
Mali’s Africa Cup of Nations victory over Tunisia ended in farcical circumstances after referee Janny Sikazwe blew for full-time before the end of the regulation 90 minutes, despite a host of stoppages.
Both teams were eventually asked to return to the field to finish the match, with the fourth official set to take over from Sikazwe in the middle, but Tunisia’s players refused in protest, allowing Mali to keep a 1-0 win, which came courtesy of Ibrahima Kone’s 48th-minute penalty.
Zimbabwean official Sikazwe had already erroneously blown for full-time once, after 85 minutes, only for the game to be resumed after protests from the Tunisian bench.
Starting XI: Gaye, Gomez, Colley, Sundberg, Janko, Darboe, Adams, Bobb, Touray, Barrow, Ceesay
Subs: Ngum, Lamin Jallow, Ebrima Darboe, Sohna, Mbye, Bubacarr Jobe, Trawally, Sibi, Badamosi, Dembo Darboe, Sanneh, Njie.
Starting XI: Diop, Karamoko, Ba, Houbeib, Abeid, N’Diaye, Yali, Mahmoud, A. Ba, Doukara, Kamara
Subs: M’Backe N’Diaye, Demba, Abdoul Ba, Idrissa Thiam, Tanjy, Adama Ba, Oumar Camara, Diarra, Abderrahmane, Yacoub, Doukara, Coulibaly.
Gambia boss Tom Saintfiet’s thoughts
“We have ambitions, and we enter this AFCON with delight.
“In 51 years, Gambia have not played in an international competition. We will start this competition without pressure. The atmosphere is fantastic. A whole country is concerned.
“Gambia has fantastic young footballers who want to appear in front of the world. We are not here for tourism but to represent this young nation.
Mauritania boss Dider Gomes da Rosa’s thoughts
“I’m satisfied with our preparation in Abu Dhabi. We played 2 friendlies, and we are ready to start our campaign.
“I benefit from the work done by Corentin Martins, who laid the foundations for this progressive success. Now we had to find momentum, our goal is to be at least in the round of 16.
“We are calm, realistic, we have to show humility, we will bring a breath of fresh air to this AFCON.
“Gambia is a good team with very big individuals, it is not a team to be neglected, and they can be the tournament’s surprise.”