- The Gambia’s Tom Saintfiet must be at their best to progress from an AFCON group that has Senegal, Cameroon and Guinea
- Tom Saintfiet says they are in a ‘group of death’
- There will be a Senegal versus Guinea and Cameroon versus The Gambia meeting for the second AFCON tournament in a row
- Senegal and Cameroon achieved a podium finish last time out while the former has been on the podium in the past two editions and won once while the latter won the 2017 edition before finishing third in 2021.
The Gambia’s head coach, Tom Saintfiet says his side will have their work cut out going into the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament. The Belgian made the remarks after the Scorpions featured in a group C with Cameroon, Guinea and Senegal After Thursday’s draw in Abidjan.
Saintfiet admitted that The Gambia are underdogs in the group as they were last time out, but he remains hopeful.
“It’s a very difficult. More difficult than in the 2021 AFCON. The group of death! we will play against very strong opponents. The champions of Africa and our neighbors Senegal in the opening game then Cameroon who played the semi-final of last tournament after eliminating us and Guinea that reached the 16 finals” Saintfiet explained.
The 2021 quarter-finalist face defending champions and neighbors Senegal, Guinea that they eliminated in the 16th final last time, courtesy a Musa Barrow goal and Cameroon that beat them 2-0 in the quarter-final, thanks to Toko Ekambi goals.
The gaffer who has masterminded the Gambia’s football revolution in the past three, helping them to back-to-back AFCON tournaments is counting on the availability of players.
“I hope that majority of the players will stay fit and the players who play less now will get more game time within the next two months. We need to 100% fit in order to achieve more miracle.
The 50-year-old mentor added that his team is not going to blow its own trumpet, but he assured they will not be heading to Côte D’Ivoire to add numbers.
“It’s true, All four teams reached the second round last time and two were at the World Cup. Cameroon and Senegal are the big favourites to go further, but we have to prepare ourselves,” Saintfiet added.
Saintfiet went further to say that the group is more difficult than in the last but the technical team will now sit down and prepare for the tournament knowing it won’t be easy,” the astute Belgian tactician concluded.
The Scorpions will definitely fancy their chances of progressing beyond the first round, given the fact that they were in a similar situation with heavyweights Mali and Tunisia during the 2021 AFCON finals and made it to the round of 16.
The AFCON 2023 finals will get underway on January 13 to till February 11 across six venues in the West African nation.
The Gambia will be one of the teams to watch given their recent resurgence in the game.
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