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GAMBIA, URUGUAY FIGHT FOR SURVIVAL TODAY

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Estadio Unico Madre de Ciudades. Kickoff – 17:30 GMT

By Ben Morris

The 2023 Under-20 World Cup has entered the knockout phase, with The Gambia taking on Uruguay in the round of 16 this evening.

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With a place in the quarter-finals up for grabs, both nations will be eager to taste victory when they lock horns at the Estadio Unico Madre de Ciudades in Northern Argentina.

Having been drawn into a tricky group alongside France, South Korea and Honduras, Gambia were not among the favourites to reach the knockout phase, but Abdoulie Bojang’s boys exceeded all expectations to finish two points clear at the top of Group F.

After kicking off their campaign with a 2-1 victory over Honduras – courtesy of a brace from Adama Bojang – Gambia defeated France by the same scoreline, with Bayern Munich prodigy Mamin Sanyang netting the winner against Les Bleuets

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On Sunday, the Young Scorpions played out a goalless draw with South Korea in their final group game, despite racking up 17 shots while enjoying the majority of possession.

Thanks to an impressive run to the final of the Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year, Gambia have lost just one of their last nine matches across all competitions, so they will back themselves to overcome Uruguay and advance to the last eight.

Meanwhile, the Uruguayans finished second in Group E – one point behind England – after taking six points from a possible nine, while only three teams scored more group-stage goals than La Celeste’s seven.

After thrashing Iraq 4-0 in their opening match, Uruguay suffered an agonising 3-2 defeat against England before defeating Tunisia 1-0 thanks to Franco Gonzalez’s 93rd-minute penalty.

Including friendlies, Marcelo Broli’s boys have won 12 of their previous 16 games across all competitions, suffering only two defeats along the way, and they also reached the final of the South American Under-20 Championship earlier this year

Uruguay boast a strong record when it comes to the Under-20 World Cup, having finished as runners-up in 1997 and 2013 before finishing fourth in 2017, so the current crop of rising stars will fancy their chances of going deep into the tournament.

After bagging a match-winning brace against Honduras, Adama Bojang will continue to lead the line for Gambia, with Modou Lamin Marong, Bailo Bah and Mansour Mbye expected to offer attacking support to the lone striker.

Muhammed Jobe and Mahmudu Bajo will continue to anchor the midfield, while centre-backs Alagie Saine and Dembo Saidykhan will likely resume their partnership in front of goalkeeper Pa Ebou Dampha.

As for Uruguay, Franco Gonzalez and Matias Abaldo will lead the way, having both registered two goals and one assist in Argentina, with Luciano Rodriguez and Juan Cruz de los Santos also expected to feature in attack.

At the opposite end of the pitch, Randall Rodriguez will continue between the sticks, while Alan Matturro and Mateo Ponte will occupy the full-back roles.

Sportsmole

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