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Thursday, September 28, 2023

2023 AFCON Qualifying: The Gambia fight their way back into contention by edging Mali

There were few chances in a West African duel between The Gambia and Mali in 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying but the Scorpions of Gambia found a late goal to defeat the Group G leaders 1-0 and move back into contention for qualification on Tuesday. Gambia captain Omar Colley headed in a free kick service from Ebrima Colley to move Gambia level with Republic of Congo on six points in second position, three points back of Mali. Group G continues to be tight with Mali remaining at the top with nine points and South Sudan in last place with three points.

The Gambia needed a result at the Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca, Morocco and found it difficult to create opportunities against a Malian team who were perfect through three matches before Tuesday’s clash. Striker Ali Sowe, making his first start of the qualifying campaign, came closest to opening the scoring for Gambia but headed a corner kick wide just before halftime.

While the Gambian attack struggled their defense kept Mali’s talented attack from threatening and it set the stage for a late push that resulted in the crucial match winner. In the 79th minute substitute Ebrima Colley whipped in a free kick from the left wing and Omar Colley stormed in at the near post to nod past Mali goalkeeper Ismaël Diawara. With matches remaining against South Sudan and Congo, The Gambia will fancy their odds of returning to the AFCON after their success at the 2021 edition.

Video of Omar Colley’s match winning goal is below.