Tuesday, December 6

Gambia to face Mali, Congo in 2023 AFCON qualifiers

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By Arfang M.S. Camara

The Gambia senior national team (the Scorpions) has been paired against Mali, Republic of the Congo and South Sudan for the Total Energies Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers for a place in Ivory Coast 2023.

The draw was held Tuesday 19th April 2022 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

It was conducted by African football legends, former South Africa defender Lucas Radebe and ex Côte d’Ivoire forward Solomon Kalou.

The Scorpions reached the quarterfinals of the 2021 African Cup of Nations in its first appearance before losing to host nation Cameroon 2-0. The will be hope to make their second appearance in the tournament.

The Gambia draw 1-1 with Mali during the group stage of the 2021 African Cup of Nations before going on to top its group with 7 points.

The Scorpions will be happy to have avoided house-hold names such as Nigeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Morocco, Senegal, Algeria and Tunisia in the balloting for the continent’s bi-annual biggest football showpiece qualifiers.

The Gambia secured qualification to the group phase of the continent’s bi-annual biggest football fiesta qualifiers following their 3-2 aggregate win over Chad in their preliminary qualifiers played last month.

The Scorpions made their debut in the 2021 Africa Cup after finishing top-spot in Group D of the qualifiers with 10 points in six group matches.

24 teams are set to qualify for the group stage of the AFCON group stage.

The draw was conducted by African football legends, former South Africa defender Lucas Radebe and ex Côte d’Ivoire forward Solomon Kalou.

Defending champions Senegal have been pooled in Group L where they will battle out with Benin, Mozambique and Rwanda.

Hosts Côte d’Ivoire are in Group H with Zambia, Comoros and Lesotho. Only one team will qualify from this group, alongside the hosts. Comoros who were one of the surprise packages at the delayed 2021 showpiece in Cameroon are seeking for a second consecutive qualification.

Losing finalists from the 2021 showpiece Egypt have meanwhile been drawn in Pool D and Mohamed Salah will fancy another battle against club teammate Naby Keita as they have been drawn with Guinea, Malawi and Ethiopia.

There will be several derbies as well with East African rivals Uganda and Tanzania drawn together again, and they will face off in Group F together with 2019 champions Algeria and Niger.

Uganda and Tanzania faced off in the qualifiers for the 2019 showpiece where they drew 0-0 in the first leg in Kampala and Tanzania winning 3-0 in Dar es Salaam.

Tanzania also faced Algeria at the subsequent tournament in Egypt, where they suffered a 3-0 defeat.