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Preview: Gambia vs. Mauritania

Gambia finally get their chance to compete in the spotlight on Wednesday when the Scorpions meet Mauritania in Group F action to make their Africa Cup of Nations debut. The West African nation has continued to build a solid foundation for success under manager Tom Saintfiet and Gambia are optimistic that they can thrive in Cameroon. Mauritania stand in the way today, a team that made their AFCON debut in the 2019 edition and will hope to advance out of the group stage under recently hired French manager Didier Gomes da Rosa.

The major story for Gambia leading up to the competition was how Covid-19 infections disrupted the team’s camp in Qatar, causing them to miss out on friendly games against Algeria and Syria. However, the latest reports indicate that the majority of the team will be available with 26 of 28 players taking part in training after as many as 16 had previously tested positive in Qatar. Important attacking players Musa Barrow and Assan Ceesay appear set to start and the Scorpions will be led by Sampdoria center back Omar Colley in the heart of defense. Colley, in comments to BBC Sport Africa, stated that there is always a team that surprises at the AFCON and that Gambia aims to be the team that unexpectedly makes a run.

Mauritania are hoping to crash Gambia’s party by earning three points, and the team is showing promising signs of recovery under manager Gomes da Rosa. Unlike many of their peers in Cameroon, Mauritania were able to get in two friendly matches with a 0-0 draw against Burkina Faso as well as a 1-1 result against Gabon. The team is boosted in attack by the addition of European-based players born in France such as former Leeds United forward Souleymane Doukara and Pape Ibnou Ba of Le Havre. These players should give incumbent striker and captain Aboubakar Kamara support that gives Mauritania the potential to surprise and far exceed their substandard performances in recent FIFA World Cup qualifying and Arab Cup campaigns.

Check out CAF Online and SuperSport’s general previews with pre-match quotes from the managers and captains. BBC Sport Africa’s profile of Colley is below as well followed by French language previews, one of which from Ouest-France predicts the starting lineups.

Debutants Gambia and Mauritania looking to make waves (SuperSport)
Mauritanie – Gambie. Les compos probables (Ouest-France)

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