The Gambia are one of the teams expected to excel at the TotalEnergies U-20 Africa Cup of Nations following their third-place finish in the previous tournament in Mauritania.
The Young Scorpions will face Tunisia for the second consecutive tournament as the latter open their Group C campaign at the competition being hosted by Egypt.
The West Africans secured a 4-2 shootout victory over the Young Carthage Eagles in Nouakchott to claim their second bronze medal in the tournament and coach Abdoulie Bojang wants to keep on that path.
“I have a duty to maintain the standards of the team. The focus is on Tunisia, to put up a respectable performance and win,” said the former Scorpions midfielder.
“Football is not just on paper but the 90 minutes on the pitch and that is what we will do. We were here before, so we want to be consistent with our performances to achieve that again.”
The coach is known for his emphasis on discipline and a clear style of play and Bojang expects his team to play as a unit.
“It’s a team, it’s not individuals but it’s a team that plays together, with a dream, with a strategy and each player is very disciplined and does everything to achieve this.”
In Group C, they have been drawn against Tunisia, Benin and 2017 winners Zambia.
“We are in good condition, we can work calmly to get the goal; qualify for the World Cup and why not win this trophy,” Bojang said.
Football in The Gambia is going through exciting times with the Young Scorpions qualifying for consecutive tournaments on the heels of the senior team’s heroics in Cameroon on their TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations debut last year.
“It will be a very difficult match against Tunisia, they will be favourites, they are a great nation, but we have fantastic players, and we will do everything to win this match.
“We are well prepared; we respect the opponents. We must continue to dream,” he concluded.
Alagie Saine is one of the surviving members of the 2021 team in Mauritania and the team captain who recently signed for Danish side AC Horsens is raring to go.
“I feel the same temperature as in Europe, the pitches are magnificent, at this level, we are spoiled,” said the former Falcons captain.
“We are here to represent our country as our seniors did at the AFCON in Cameroon.
“We must be dignified and make our people happy.”
Tunisia coach Adel Sellimi says his players must take all their chances when they face favourites Gambia at the TotalEnergies U-20 Africa Cup of Nations on Tuesday.
The Young Carthage Eagles trainer added that his team must be efficient when they play two-time bronze medalists in Group C of the tournament in the Egyptian city of Alexandria in their opening group match.
Tunisia finished fourth in the last edition in Mauritania going down on post-match penalties to Tuesday’s opponent The Gambia.
The two teams are joined in the group by Benin and COSAFA and 2017 AFCON U-20 champions Zambia and coach Sellimi has advised his players not to be overcome by the tension associated with the match.
“I’ve asked the players to free themselves, to have fun on the pitch but to be efficient, disciplined and enduring,” said the former Tunisia senior international.
“We are going for a young generation who have real ambitions. It is an important competition to prepare the future of our football.
“We must start well, starting the competition in the right way. We will face a great Gambian team. We have the ultimate determination to raise our level to win.”
Sellimi, who played for French side FC Nantes and the Cartage Eagles at the 1996 AFCON in South Africa was joined by Esperance de Tunis youngster Ghaith Wahabi at the traditional pre match press conference.
“We have prepared well. We will fight to win, to qualify for the World Cup,” Wahabi said.
“It is an honor for me to represent my country, it will be played on the mind against Gambia.”
Scorpions possible starting lineup –
Carthage Eagles possible starting lineup –
Scorpions of Gambia vs Carthage Eagles of Tunisia prediction
The five-team strong West African Zone A qualifiers hosted by Mauritania began quite strong for Gambia after beating 2-0 in their qualification opener. They continued that momentum by thrashing Liberia 4-1, drawing Guinea 0-0 and thereafter losing to Senegal 0-1.
Faced with African powerhouse in the knockout stages, they equalized less than 10 minutes from time before winning 4-2 on penalties after extra time. Their incredible run proved too good to be true after losing in the final game to the same opponent Senegal, with the same scorer, Samba Diallo, with the same score line 0-1, though in the second-half of proceedings.
In their 6th participation in this competition, with two 3rd place finishes, anything less than qualification for the next round will be considered a failure.
Qualifying from the African Northern Zone is always an incredible feat. CAF imposed just one slot this time around because of hosts Egypt occupying the other slot. That didn’t stop Tunisia from drawing with Morocco, 0-0, beating Libya 1-0, and drawing with Algeria 4-4, even though they had been leading 4-1 as from the 67th minute.
This earned Tunisia five points with a slim margin over rivals Libya and Morocco on 4 points each.
Are three matches sufficient enough to give them the edge in a tough group in their 8th appearance? A 2nd place finish in 1985 and recent 4th spot in the last tournament in Mauritania plus proximity to Egypt makes them one of the favourites to qualify from the group.
All rights reserved. This material and any other digital content on this platform may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, written, or distributed in full or in part, without written permission from our management.
This site is not responsible for the content displayed by external sites