By Hermann Peter Mweguye
Gambia and Mali will battle for three points at Limbe Stadium in a Group F Africa Cup of Nations 2021 matchday two fixture on Sunday which is a direct contest to find out who can progress to the Round of 16 with a game to spare.
The two sides come into the game on the back of narrow 1-0 victories on Wednesday. Ablie Jallow’s 10th-minute goal was enough to give Gambia all three points against Mauritania.
While Ibrahima Kone struck from the penalty spot three minutes into the second half to give Mali a 1-0 victory over Tunisia in a game that was capped by poor officiating incidents.
The respective wins took both sides joint-summit in the Group F standings, making this game a pure contest for the top spot and next round qualification in Group F.
This will be the 19th meeting between the two sides where Mali have a marginally better record with eight wins to their name.
Gambia are victorious on six occasions while four matches in the past ended in a share of the spoils.
Their most recent meeting came in the qualification stage for the 2019 African Nations Championship when Mali progressed by a 4-0 aggregate victory.
In addition, the Eagles are currently on a seven-game unbeaten streak, winning six and impressively topping their FIFA World Cup qualification group without conceding a goal.
On the other hand, Gambia won three of their six friendly games heading into AFCON.
Tom Saintfied, Gambia’s head coach has an injury and suspension, free squad, for selection ahead of this game.
Whereas Mali head coach Mohamed Magassouba has a few of notable squad absentees for this fixture.
El Bilal Toure came off the bench and was sent off in controversial circumstances against Tunisia, ruling him out of the match.
Further, Adama Traore picked up an injury against the Carthage Eagles and is unavailable.
It should be noted that Sampdoria defender Omar Colley and Bologna midfielder Moussa Barrow headline the Gambian squad at the Cup of Nations for justified performances so far.
Saintfield can reliably count on them to edge Mali tomorrow.