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Sunday, July 21, 2024


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The Gambia secured their place at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) with a dramatic 2-2 draw against Congo Brazzaville in Marrakech on Sunday night.
The match went ahead despite the devastating earthquake which hit the Moroccan city on Friday, killing over 2,000 people.
Gambia’s Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet said several of his squad members did not want to play the game.
Fearing that “a plane had crashed into the hotel” and calling the experience “very scary,” Saintfiet and his squad slept outdoors next to the swimming pool of their hotel as they were concerned about remaining indoors.
Despite the team’s disturbed preparations, the Scorpions showed their mettle and fought back from two goals down with just over ten minutes remaining to book their place at January’s finals in Ivory Coast.
An early goal from Gaius Makouta was quickly followed by a Silvere Ganvoula penalty to give Congo a 2-0 lead, before Newcastle United teenager Yankuba Minteh scored in the 79th minute to spark the comeback.
On the stroke of full-time, Muhammed Badamosi hit a last-gasp equaliser to ensure The Gambia finished behind group winners Mali in second, qualifying for the Afcon for the second time in their history.
After nearly half a century of trying but failing to qualify for Africa’s flagship sporting event, The Gambia has now reached back-to-back finals and will hope to build on their surprise quarter-final run last time out.
Friday’s earthquake occurred 71 kilometres south-west of Marrakech, and Sunday’s game was able to take place as the Stade de Marrakech is located 11 kilometres to the north of the city.
The fixture was held in Morocco because The Gambia’s stadia did not meet the standard required by the Confederation of African Football to host international fixtures.
Already qualified are Algeria, Angola, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, DR Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia and Zambia.
They will all join host nation Ivory Coast at the finals.

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