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Wednesday, June 12, 2024


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By Anthony Brown

Winless Gambia and Seychelles battle at Stade Municipal de Berkane on Saturday, keen to record maximum points in World Cup qualifying.

Both sides lost their two games in November 2023, and aim to end extended runs without winning, even if it would do their prospects of making it to the global showpiece little good.

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Second-bottom Gambia have lost World Cup qualifying matches to Burundi and Cote d’Ivoire in the lead-up to Saturday’s match with Seychelles.

The fixtures were played last November, with the former ending 3-2 and the fixture with the Elephants ending 2-0 to the side that would reign supreme on the continent three months later.

Despite guiding them in the opening fixtures of qualifying last November, Tom Saintfiet left his role as Gambia’s head coach after five years to be replaced by Johnathan McKinstry.

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The new boss aims to end the Scorpions’ five-match losing run in which they have fired blanks in three, failing to score against Ivory Coast (2-0), Senegal (3-0) and Guinea (1-0).

While the fifth defeat of the ongoing sequence came against Cameroon at AFCON 2023 — a match they led 2-1 heading into the final three minutes of the 90 — McKinstry will seek to use that match as motivation, even if it held months back without him being in situ.

Seychelles Islands

If Gambia’s situation appears desperate, their opponents might be in worse shape before Saturday’s meeting in Berkane, Morocco.

Seychelles have conceded 14 goals after 180 minutes of football at the start of qualifying, losing 9-0 to Ivory Coast and conceding five in their last competitive fixture against Kenya in November.

Those heavy defeats mean Ralph Jean-Louis’ men have lost five on the trot, failing to score in four matches.

A deeper look into the Pirates’ results shows that 11 of their last 13 international matches have been defeats, underlining the tiny nation’s struggles.

Unlike their opponents who have some recent history at the Cup of Nations, Seychelles have never qualified for any Cup of Nations finals and are unlikely to make their World Cup debut as they already trail the table-topping pair of Ivory Coast and Gabon by six points.

Thus, simply avoiding defeat in Berkane will be received positively for a nation with one win in eight years.

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