The Gambia Scorpions aim to take a huge step towards punching their ticket for next year’s finals in Cameroon when they host Angola in a 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier at the Independence Stadium in Bakau on Thursday. Gambia’s hopes of advancing to the Africa Cup of Nations were handed a huge boost by overcoming Gabon last time out and a win here in this clash with Angola may be enough to confirm their spot.
Angola is already out of the running having failed to win any of their four matches so far so they only have pride at stake but that is unlikely to be enough to prevent the Gambia, who have lost just one of their last seven matches, from earning the win that could secure their qualification.
The Scorpions are hoping to qualify for Africa’s premier competition for the very first time and will do so if they win and Gabon defeats the Democratic Republic of Congo in Franceville at the same time.
Gambia is tied on seven points with Gabon atop Group D after four rounds of fixtures and will be eager to get the job done on home soil before Monday’s match in Kinshasa.
Angola head coach Pedro Goncalves has one eye on the future knowing that his team’s hopes of reaching next year’s Afcon are all but over. Palancas Negras head into the fixture in the last place, having accumulated a mere point from their allotted fixtures.
But despite heading into the match as favourites, Gambia head coach Tom Saintfiet will not be taking Angola lightly, as the Scorpions aim not to squander a golden chance at making history.
“The game will not be easy; our opponents have something to play for but what we are able to achieve in the past two years shows that we are a strong team. Angola is strong but we know what is at stake; the players are all motivated and they are eager to play,” said Saintfiet.
The Gambia claimed a 3-1 win over Angola in the reverse fixture hosted in Luanda in November 2019. Angola took an early lead through Eduardo but goals from Assan Ceesay (two) and Sulayman Marreh steered the visitors to a famous win.
The top two nations in each group advance to the 24-team finals hosted in Cameroon next year.