Sunday, March 26

‘Cameroon fans can motivate us’

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On Saturday, they take on the hosts in Cameroon’s home of football Douala and will aim to silence the partisan crowd at the Japoma stadium.

“It is going to be a different experience of course if there’s like 45,000 people in the stadium screaming for that one team who is running up on your goal,” The Gambia goalkeeper Baboucarr Gaye told BBC Sport Africa.

“It is also a kind of motivation if you feel everyone is against you, it also gives you energy. We are trying to take that to do our best and hopefully after our game the stadium will be quiet and we can celebrate.”

The Gambia have only conceded once in the tournament and the 23-year-old will need to put in another good performance in goal when they face Cameroon, whose offensive line is led by their captain and the tournament’s leading scorer, Vincent Aboubakar.

“It’s obviously the same in every game, doesn’t matter who is playing as a striker- you are trying to save the ball regardless, but yes he is a man of absolute quality,” Gaye added.

“They have a lot of decent players in their squad. We’ll try to stop them from scoring a goal, but if we score one, we can probably win a game and that’s our plan.”

Africa Cup of Nations fixtures

Penalty save

Gaye’s journey at the Nations Cup did not start until the Scorpions’ final group game against Tunisia, joining the team late from their training base in Doha, Qatar following a Covid-19 positive test.

He made his mark, saving Seifeddine Jaziri’s penalty as Tunisia missed from the spot.

“I was very happy to get that game, and it went perfectly, almost like a dream. Not only the first start, I also managed to save that penalty, got man of the match which obviously isn’t everything that counts but after this tough two weeks it was good relief,” he said.

“[After the match] I was trying to stop myself from crying on TV. It had been very tough being alone in the hotel room waiting for the test result. The first test result was positive again and I was stuck in there for like so many days but I was happy for my family, my girlfriend everyone around me supporting me keeping me mentally strong.”

Gaye had struggled to settle at a club before he signed for German fourth tier side FC Rot-Weiß Koblenz.

The German-born keeper is hopeful that his performances at the Nations Cup can further boost his career.

“Hopefully some people see that I had some good games. Football is about patience [as a]goalkeeper. I was trying to get playing time at the right club but some things didn’t go perfectly – one club went bankrupt and at another the Covid pandemic took over” he explained.

“At the end of the day I am healthy, I get the chance to be here and I get to take it.”