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 today.
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.
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.
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 will be without star midfielder Keita as the Liverpool man will serve a one-match suspension after picking up a yellow card for the second straight game against Zimbabwe last time out.
On the injury front, Issiaga Sylla is a major doubt for the Syli National after the Toulouse midfielder was forced off the pitch in the 88th minute against Zimbabwe last time out.
Should the 28-year-old fail to recover in time, his replacement Horoya midfielder Morlaye Sylla could come in for his first starting appearance at the tournament.
Meanwhile, Barrow has been pivotal in Gambia’s solid campaign so far, scoring one and assisting two of their three goals so far and we expect the Bologna man to lead the line once again.
Jallow was dropped to the bench against Tunisia last time out, but after coming on to score the winner, the 23-year-old could be rewarded with a return to the starting side.
The Metz forward, who is currently on loan with Belgian side Seraing, now has two goals under his belt at the tournament and will certainly be one to keep an eye out for.
Noah Sonko Sundberg is currently an injury doubt for Gambia after missing the game against the Eagles of Carthage due to an injury he picked up against Mali last Sunday.
Guinea possible starting lineup:
Keita; Kane, M Camara, Sow, Conte; Moriba, Kane, Cisse, A Camara; Bayo, Kante
Gambia possible starting lineup:
Gaye; Modou, Colley, Gomez, Jagne; Sohna, Bobb, Marreh; Jallow, Barrow, Ceesay