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Preview: Gambia vs. Tunisia

Both Tunisia and Gambia are already mathematically qualified for the Round of 16 ahead of Thursday’s Group F encounter, but there still remains plenty to play for. Mali are favored to win the group if they can defeat Mauritania as expected, but a defeat for either Tunisia or Gambia could mean that they will be matched up against Nigeria in the Round of 16 as opposed to the more desirable matchup of Guinea. Tunisia are treating the match as a must-win while Gambia, a point ahead of today’s opponents, hope to avoid losing.

Complications have accumulated during Tunisia’s stay in Cameroon with Covid-19 hitting the team hard, and the latest news is particularly ominous. Left back Ali Maâloul, star forward Wahbi Khazri and midfielder Ghailene Chaalali are among the eight players who will be unavailable and join five players who missed out on the second match against Mauritania due to testing positive. The Carthage Eagles hope that the group of five, which includes starting defender Dylan Bronn and attacker Naïm Sliti, will be able to join right back Mohamed Dräger back in the starting lineup. Tunisian publication La Presse speculates that due to the absences, manager Mondher Kebaier will likely adopt a cautious approach and perhaps use three center backs to provide more support against the talented Gambian attack.

Gambia continue to push in their attempts to prove they are far more formidable than their FIFA ranking of 150 suggests. With qualification secured after two matches, the first step is complete but the Scorpions will need to be focused to avoid defeat in a tricky matchup. A draw will be an excellent result but the team needs to find a good balance between attack and defense. Manager Tom Saintfiet praised his team’s defensive performance in their 1-1 draw against Mali, a match where Les Aigles had the majority of the ball and three times the shots Gambia had. The team remains confident that their team spirit will help them thrive and are continuing to relish being labeled as underdogs.

Links are below with more news on both teams.

Gambia v Tunisia – For history (CAF Online)
Tunisia looking to deny Gambia top spot in Group F (SuperSport)
Match Facts – Gambia v Tunisia (CAF Online)

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