AFCON 2021: Comeback Kings Gambia Tops Group D

AFCON 2021: Comeback Kings Gambia Tops Group D

The Gambia came from behind twice to draw 2-2 with the Democratic Republic of Congo in the second match day of Group D in the qualifications for the 2021 African Cup of Nations in Banjul on Monday.

The Scorpions currently lie112 places behind the Leopards in the FIFA world rankings.Coming back from an emphatic 3-1 win away over Angola in match day one on Thursday, the Scorpions first competitive away win in 36 years, the Scorpions were without top scorer Assan Ceesay who was suspended for accumulating two yellow cards in the games against Angola and Djibouti in the preliminaries.

Tom Saintfiet’s charges were also without mesmeric forward Ablie Jallow and right back Ngine Faye Njie, both failing to recover on time from the injuries they picked up in Luanda. The trio were replaced in the starting lineup by Bubacarr Steve Trawally, Lamin Jallow and Dawda Ngum respectively.

The Scorpions, sitting 166 places in the latest FIFA World Rankings, were the first to put the ball at the back of the net when the rock of Gibralter, Sampdoria defender Omar Colley, stabbed home a rebound but the referee adjudged it to be offside after the flag was raised by his assistant on the far right. Moments later, Ex-Villarreal forward Cedric Bakambu, one of the star-studded players in the Leopards team, broke the deadlock from a corner kick with almost the last kick of the first stanza.

Trawally had also missed a golden opportunity before then when he shot straight at the Congolese keeper from just four yards out.The Scorpions regrouped after the break and their efforts were rewarded when Captain Pa Modou Jagne started and finished his own move to send a packed Independence Stadium into ruptures.

Having started the play from his left back position, the ball eventually found its way to one of Gambia’s most skillful players, Hamza Barry, who sent in a textbook cross with his weaker left foot for Nda to head home the equaliser.

The Gambia dominated possession from that point and had several decent chances to get the go ahead goal but were made to pay for their profligacy in front of goal when Jackson Muleka hammered home from outside the box to give the Leopards, a team ranked 54 in the world, the lead for the second time in the match with just quarter of an hour remaining.

It looked at that point that the visitors had done enough to take all three points but the home side had other ideas as their never say die attitude finally paid off deep into stoppage time.

Saintfiet made several substitutions after the second setback and his last throw of the dice was to send in forward Bubacarr Jobe for defender Dawda Ngum to play as a wing back.

That was a touch of genius from the “Saint” as his gamble paid off when Jobe, who scored twice in a 3-1 comeback win over Benin at the same stadium exactly a year ago, overlapped to hammer home the match tying goal two minutes into stoppage.The Gambia tops the group with four points, the same number of points as Gabon but the West Africans lead on their positive goal difference of two.

The Nations Cup qualifiers will now take a back seat for the World Cup and would return in September 2020 when the two group leaders square off in in a two-legged affair; first in Franceville with the return leg in Banjul a week later. DR Congo is third on two points with Angola bottom on zero. The two best finishers will both qualify for the Cameroon AFCON.

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