Gambia to fray with Algeria today in AFCON Qualifier

Friday, March 22, 2019

The Scorpions will battle with Desert Foxes of Algeria in the final group D fixture of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers today, at Mustapha Tchaker Stadium in Blida, at 7: 45 pm local time.

This will be the eight time meeting between the Scorpions and the Desert Foxes since they started competing in 2006, in which Algeria won 4 times and Gambia won 2 and draw 1.

Algeria have already secured qualification to the continent’s biggest football fiesta after grabbing 10 points in Group D.

Benin are second-spot in group D with 7 points while Togo and The Gambia have both gripped 5 points each but the Hawks are leading on better-to-head record.

Coach Tom Saintfiet has named a strong squad for the match with the Desert Foxes with the inclusion of two new players; midfielder Kalifa Manneh, who is currently playing his trade with Italian Serie C (third-tier) side Calcio Catania and striker Nuha Marong of CD Atlético Baleares in the Spanish Segunda División B (fourth-tier) and also the return of skipper Omar Colley.

Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi has also picked an experimental squad featuring Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez as one of the big players invited.

Belmadi also opted to try some new players with the Desert Foxes who are already qualified for the continent’s bi-annual biggest football gala.

Gambia must beat Algeria, who are unbeaten in 33 matches in Bilda and hope Benin and Togo draw to make their maiden appearance in the Africa Cup of Nations final to be hosted in Egypt, later this year.

Gambia Football Federation (GFF) appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) over the eligibility of Togo defender Adewale Olufade, who featured against Scorpions in the qualifiers last October.

If the appeal is successful according to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) rules, Togo will be disqualified and their results will be annulled, something that could have a big impact on who goes on to play this year. The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations for the first time will feature 24 teams.

Author: Arfang M.S. Camara