Kickoff 4pm, prediction, team news, lineups
By Devesh Jaganath
Game week two in Group F of the Caf World Cup qualifiers will see Gambia taking on Ivory Coast at the Benjamin Mkapa National Stadium in Tanzania on Monday afternoon.
The visitors come into this match at the top of the group standings after cantering to victory in their first match of the competition, while the hosts are in fourth place and hoping to earn their first point in this one.
Gambia have arguably turned out their best-ever side in recent times and came into this qualifier with loads of confidence, having recently qualified for a second consecutive Africa Cup of Nations.
While featuring in the continent’s biggest tournament may seem like a bare minimum requirement for the likes of their opponents in this match, it is a very impressive feat for the Gambians, considering they made their Afcon debut only two years ago.
The Scorpions began their qualification campaign with a 3-2 away defeat to Burundi, with Abedi Bigirimana, Frederic Nsabiyumwa, and Abdallah Sudi scoring for Les Hirondelles, while Musa Barrow and Ebrima Colley found the net for the Gambians.
However, despite starting their qualification campaign with a loss, the Scorpions will remain optimistic, and under the leadership of Tom Saintfiet, they will be expected to improve as the qualifiers progresses.
These two teams have faced each other six times in the past, with The Elephants claiming four wins and Gambia emerging victorious in two previous matches.
Meanwhile, Ivory Coast have been unable to qualify for the last two editions of the FifaWorld Cup, having previously made three consecutive appearances in 2006, 2010 and 2014.
However, Jean-Louis Gasset has one of the most star-studded squads in Africa, and they showed off their attacking capabilities in their demolition of Seychelles in their opening match of qualifying.
The Elephants were simply too strong in that match, with Karim Konate and Hamed Traore scoring two goals each, while Sebastian Haller, Jean-Philippe Krasso, Seko Fofana, Ibrahim Sangare, and Simon Adingra each contributed one goal in the 9-0 onslaught.
The visitors are ranked 52nd in the world according to the latest FIFA World Rankings, and this match marks their first encounter against Gambia in a decade, with their last meeting occurring in June 2013 when they secured a 3-0 away victory in a 2014 Fifa World Cup qualifier.
The Elephants are now unbeaten in their last four matches in all competitions, including two wins and two draws, and are strongly fancied not just to win this match but to go on to top the group.
Former Bologna striker Musa Barrow scored his fifth goal for his country last week and is expected to lead the line again in this match with Assan Ceesay in support.
Ebrima Colley will play down the left flank, while Cardiff City midfielder Ebou Adams will look to provide the creativity from midfield alongside FC Metz enforcer Ablie Jallow.
Wilfried Zaha sat out in his side’s demolition of Seychelles last week, and the Galatasaray winger is expected to return to the team for this one, with Konate possibly dropping to the bench.
Nicolas Pepe was another who skipped the last match and should return to the squad this time, though Fofana could get the nod ahead of the Trabzonspor player after getting on the scoresheet last week.
Gambia possible starting lineup:
Gaye; Sundberg, Gomez, O. Colley, Sanneh; Manneh, Adams, Barry; Barrow, Ceesay, E. Colley
Ivory Coast possible starting lineup:
Gbohouo; Aurier, Bailly, Deli, Konan; Kessie, Seri, Sangare; Fofana, Haller, Zaha
Gambia have improved significantly over the last few years, but they face an Ivory Coast side in this one that are overflowing with talent. While we are not expecting another 9-0 victory as they managed last week, we do still feel that The Elephants will claim a fairly comfortable win in this match.