The moment of truth is now here. This evening The Gambia will make one last attempt to reach the African Nations Cup finals, a feat that remains a fleeting illusion pursued for over 50 years without success.
And even this one is not without anxiety and big doubts in fact. But don’t tell that to coach Tom Saintfiet and his charges because they are in no mood to brood over possible failure.
Yet Tom, despite his sainthood knows that he needs to work extra hard to invoke the blessings of God in this task which is as herculean as a near impossibility. His team must beat Algeria of all teams at their safe den in Blida and pray that the Benin versus Togo match ends in a draw.
The chances of both scenarios happening are remote and should be the lead prayer hymn in the mouth of all Imams in this afternoon’s congregation in The Gambia.
Algeria may have qualified but the former Number 1 ranked African team is chasing a lost pride since the 2014 World Cup and have called a formidable squad to finish the qualifiers on a high note. They are threatening to be ruthless and hungry and they are at home. In Cotonou, Benin, at points 7, know that they must win against Togo which would be enough to see them through whatever happens between The Gambia and Algeria. But Togo too has everything to play for in Contonu. They share the same points with The Gambia but a better head to head over the Scorpions. Should they pull a victory over Benin, even a victorious Gambia in Algeria will not make it.
That is the situation in this intriguing group, which along with others will be decided this evening with only top two finishers going to the finals in Egypt in the summer.
Algeria – 10 pts
Benin – 7 pts
The Gambia– 5 pts
Togo– 5 pts
Fri.. Algeria versus Gambia
Sat. Benin versus Togo
Kick off 19:45