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Gambia’s dream AFCON run continues with Round of 16 shutout of Guinea

A 71st minute Musa Barrow goal sent the Scorpions of Gambia to the quarterfinals of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon following their 1-0 victory over Guinea in the Round of 16 on Monday. Gambia will attempt to continue a historic run on their debut on Saturday when they face the winner of the match between Cameroon and Comoros.

Both teams were cautious in the early stages and there were few opportunities in the opening half. However, each team was able to have a decent look by halftime. In the 13th minute Gambian star Musa Barrow attempted a long-distance blast from 25 yards out that was beaten away by Guinea goalkeeper Aly Keita.

Guinea had their chance towards the end of the half when Aguibou Camara won the ball in the midfield over to Amadou Diawara, who found Mohamed Bayo for a good look. Gambian center back James Gomez stepped in with a crucial intervention to block the shot before Dayo collected the ball and had his second opportunity smothered by Scorpions shot stopper Baboucarr Gaye.

Timely interventions were the theme of the day for a Gambian defense that was tough as nails. About ten minutes after halftime, Guinean midfielder Ilaix Moriba played an excellent one-two pass with forward José Kanté to set up an apparently open look from close range. Gambian captain and center back Omar Colley had other ideas as it was his turn to make a last ditch challenge, blocking what looked to be a sure goal for Moriba.

It always appeared that one goal would decide the match and the decisive moment came for Gambia with twenty minutes to go. Gambian midfielder Yusupha Bobb played a pass to the edge of the Guinean penalty area for Barrow, and the Bologna FC forward provided a brilliant first touch to take the ball beyond center back Ibrahima Sory Conté before finishing coolly with his left foot past Keita for the game’s lone goal.

Gambia were left to hold on for dear life for the remainder of the ninety minutes. Conté appeared to have equalized for Guinea in the 77th minute when the defender turned in a cross from Kanté but was ruled offside by a fraction. After Gambia’s Yusupha Njie was sent off for a second yellow card in the 87th minute, Guinea had their best chance in the second minute of stoppage time. Conté drove a cross from the left wing off the near post and the ball rebounded out to the edge of the penalty area, where Kanté ran on to blast an effort on goal. Gaye did brilliantly to tip the shot onto the crossbar and Gambia survived the ensuing scramble to hold on for yet another historic win.

Video of Barrow’s winner and Guinea’s late opportunity to equalize are below.

71′- Musa Barrow’s second AFCON 2021 goal gives Gambia the lead

90’+2 – Gaye and Gambia defense halt final push from Guinea

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