Two West African sides will battle it out at the Stade Omnisports de Bafoussam as Guinea and Gambia go head to head for a place in the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations on Monday.
While the Syli National picked up four points from their opening three games, Gambia have enjoyed an unbeaten campaign so far, finishing only behind first-placed Mali on goal difference after picking up seven points in Group F.
Guinea picked up a dream start to their Africa Cup of Nations campaign as they claimed a 1-0 victory over Malawi on January 10 courtesy of Issiaga Sylla’s first-half strike.
This was followed by another somewhat impressive performance as they held a significantly superior Senegal side to an uneventful goalless draw four days later.
Guinea wrapped things up in the group stages with a surprise 2-1 defeat at the hands of Zimbabwe when the sides squared off at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium last time out.
Knowledge Musona and Kudakwashe Mahachi scored to hand the Warriors a two-goal lead heading into half time before Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita pulled one back four minutes into the second half.
With four points from three games, Guinea finished second in Group B, one point off group winners Senegal and level on points with third-placed Malawi, who also secured their ticket to the round of 16.
The Syli National, who have now reached the last 16 for the fifth time in their last six appearances at the tournament, head into Monday’s game without a knockout-stage victory since 1976, when they lost to Morocco in the final.
Meanwhile, Gambia will feel delighted by their performance so far as they cruised through the group stages in what is their first-ever appearance at the tournament.
After a fine qualifying journey, where they edged out Congo DR, Tom Saintfiet’s side got their AFCON campaign underway in style as they claimed a 1-0 victory over Mauritania on January 12.
This was followed by a 1-1 draw with Mali four days later, when Musa Barrow calmly converted his 90th-minute penalty to cancel out Ibrahima Kone’s opener and force a share of the spoils.
The Scorpions head into Monday’s game fresh off the back of Thursday’s 1-0 victory over a more experienced Tunisia side courtesy of Ablie Jallow’s dramatic 93rd-minute winner which condemned the Eagles of Carthage to their second defeat of the tournament.
With seven points from three games, the West African nation finished second in Group F, four points above group favourites Tunisia and level on points with Mali, who secured top spot thanks to their stronger goal difference.
While they have shown flashes of brilliance in attack, Gambia have their defence to thank for their fine run in Cameroon so far as they boast one of the tournament’s best defensive records with two clean sheets and one goal conceded in three games.
Guinea Africa Cup of Nations form:
Guinea form (all competitions):
Gambia Africa Cup of Nations form:
Gambia form (all competitions):
We say: Guinea 0-1 Gambia
Making their debut at the tournament, Gambia have hit the ground running and will head into the knockout stages in sky-high spirits following their fine group-stage performance. We anticipate a thrilling contest between the two rivals with Gambia claiming the win, albeit by a narrow margin.