The national team lost 2-0 to Mali and dropped to the bottom of Group G, sparking outrage among fans ahead of tomorrow’s return leg in Casablanca.
Goals in either extreme end of the match from Kamory Doumbia and Adama Traore gave the Malians victory. Doumbia scored after three minutes when he volleyed home from inside the box.
Traore scored from the spot after the Gambia keeper brought down Nene Dorgeles inside the box. Mali top Group G with nine points off three wins on the trot, six ahead of second placed South Sudan. Victory next week in Casablanca will confirm their place in Ivory Coast.
Meanwhile, Gambia, who reached the quarter finals of their debut appearance last year, have lost their second match in a row and are on three points, separated from the South Sudanese on goal difference.
The result now means that The Gambia is on the brink of shelving any hope pf qualifying for Afcon twice in a row, unless the team can beat or draw Mali tomorrow in Casabalance where the match would be played.
Even after guiding the country to taste the big stage (Afcon finals) for the first time, Gambian football stakeholders are unforgiven and unsympathetic to Coach Tom Saintfiet.
King Enso Sanneh, an ardent Scorpions fan committed: ”Tom is not doing us a favour because, his defensive tactics is not making any sense at all. In football anytime you play defensive formation you are directly inviting your opponents to attack and any of their move could be a possible goal.
In the first 45 minutes I watched Mali played and the boys couldn’t hold the ball more than 30 seconds. Even if he wants to defend at least wait until you score a goal first and defend that”.
Another fan, Pa Malang Ndow posted this comments: “First of all where and why is our football governing body (GFF) l watching this Coach Tom Saintfeit destroying our football?
Tom is anti-football. How can you have young, energetic and fairy players capable of causing harm to any team, yet he came up with a defensive tactic and mentality that did not suit the players he selected. His team selection are always questionable. Leaving out players who are playing regularly and selecting players in the lowest leagues or those without any club”.
In a rather more direct comments, a commentator on popular Gambia Football Fans Forum said: “Many fans feel that Saintfiet’s tactics were poor and ineffective in the game against Mali. His decision to field a defensive formation and play counter-attacking football did not yield the desired results. The Gambian team lacked creativity and struggled to create chances, with the midfield failing to link up effectively with the forwards. The players appeared unsure of their roles on the pitch, and there was a general lack of cohesion throughout the team.
One of the most significant criticisms of Saintfiet’s tactics was his decision to leave out several key players. The likes of Hamza Barry, Abdoulie Sanyang, Ebrima Colley and Ali Sowe were both left on the bench, despite their proven ability to influence games positively. ”
Senegal 5-1 Mozambique
Senegal head coach Aliou Cisse says his players should not rest on their laurels, despite picking a massive 5-1 home win against Mozambique on Friday in the qualifiers for the 2023 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations.
Senegal can comprehensively wrap up their ticket to defend their title in Ivory Coast with victory against the Mambas in next week’s return duel in Maputo.
“I am delighted because this is a match that we approached very well. We told the players to go at them from the first minute. However, the truth of the matter is tonight is not the same as the match we will play in four days’ time. In Maputo, the task will be difficult because it is not easy to win there,” the reigning African coach of the year stated.
Egypt 2-0 Malawi
Elsewhere at the June 30 Stadium in Cairo, last year’s losing finalists Egypt were 2-0 winners over Malawi, skipper Mohamed Salah starring with a goal and an assist.
Burkina 1-0 Togo
Elsewhere, Burkina Faso also retained their 100% record with a 1-0 victory at home over Togo. Substitute Abdoul Tapsoba scored the lone goal three minutes from time as the Burkinabe moved to nine points, five ahead of second placed Cape Verde, who earlier on drew 0-0 with eSwatini.
Equatorial Guinea 2-0 Botswana
In Malabo, Saul Coco and Frederico Bikoro scored in either half as Equatorial Guinea beat Botswana 2-0 to move second in Group J with six points.
Guinea Bissau 1-0 Nigeria
Guinea Bissau head coach Baciro Cande was delighted with the performance by his players as they stunned Nigeria in Abuja, beating them 1-0 in their Group A.
Mama Samba Balde scored the solitary strike, Guinea Bissau making the most of their 31percent possession of the ball with a stunning victory over the Super Eagles in front of their home fans.
The victory away from home saw the Djurtus scale top of the group with seven points, one ahead of Nigeria who lost their first match in the qualifiers. The two sides meet again next week.
South Africa 2-2 Liberia
At the Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa head coach Hugo Broos was left red faced as the Bafana Bafana dropped a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Liberia. South Africa had numerous chances, but couldn’t take them and were punished by a hard fighting Liberia side.
Lyle Foster’s first half double had given South Africa a comfortable cushion, but the Lone Stars of Liberia fought in the second half with substitute Mohamed Sangare scoring at the stroke of 90 minutes, after Tonia Tisdell’s freekick had brought them within reach.
Liberia’s head coach Ansumana Keita was delighted with the result.
“This is my first international game as head coach of Liberia and my first huge game against a big opponent. There were a lot of critics, but now the critics are backing us,” the tactician said after masterminding the comeback”.
Côte d’Ivoire 3-1 Comoros
Elsewhere at the Stade De La Paix de Bouaké, hosts Côte d’Ivoire picked up a 3-1 victory over Comoros to move back top of Group H with seven points.
Sebastian Haller’s inspirational story continued, as he scored one of the three goals in his first international match since recovering from cancer. He scored a brilliant header in between Christian Kouame and Jean Philipe Krasso’s goals.